Peace is God’s way. When we follow Christ as His disciples, He gives us His peace. And He wants to then become ambassadors of peace on His behalf, helping others to also be reconciled with God the Father through faith in the death and resurrection of God the Son. This explains why Jesus said that peacemakers were blessed and would be called “children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Paul reiterates that statement as a major theme in today’s passage from Romans. He tells us to do all that we can to make peace with everyone around us (Romans 12:18). The surrounding verses explain the what and the how of that important biblical command.
The challenge to make peace is given to us as people who live in a world of conflict and hatefulness. When others “persecute” or severely mistreat us, we are not to “curse” or speak harsh words back against them, but to “bless” them with kind speech and actions (Romans 12:14). We are to genuinely care for others around us, sharing in both their joys and sorrows (Romans 12:15). To do this, we must think about the needs of others and be humble, not growing proud and thinking we know better than everyone else (Romans 12:16). Finally, we are not to take revenge against those who have wronged us, but to entrust their eventual judgment and punishment to God (Romans 12:17, 19-20). In fact, Jesus taught us to instead pray for such evildoers that they would repent and receive mercy before they face God’s wrath (Matthew 5:44).
Our part as Christians is to show love and goodness to all, even people who are evil towards us. Why? Because that is what God has done for us through Christ. All Christians were once God’s enemies, and we have sinned against the Lord many times both before and after receiving His gracious gift of salvation. If God has been so good to us in our wickedness, shouldn’t we do the same to others? The way of peace is not easy, but it is God’s way. As Christians, that means it must be our way, too.
The Text (Romans 12:14-21)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Questions to Think About
- Why do you think that seeing Christians make peace with others is so important to God?
- Can you think of a time when you treated someone in a harsh or mean way, but they responded to you with kindness? What happened? How did you feel afterwards?
- Who is mistreating you right now? How can you obey today’s Scripture and respond to them with kindness and love?
- What are some situations where Christians might not be able to make peace with others? For example, think about situations where a Christian should not compromise on moral beliefs and practices (i.e. not joining others in sin just to get along with them).