II ROMANS 32
HATE EVIL BUT
SHOW LOVING CARE AND PRAYERS FOR THOSE WHO DO IT
From verse 14 to the end of this 12th chapter of Romans, one finds some of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life to maintain in this hedonistic and self-centered world. In a society where individual rights are championed strongly, and personal defense and privacy are a paramount part of our laws, a person finds it difficult to forego those rights and personal privileges and follow the example of Jesus when confronted with challenges to their rights and threats to their person.
Let me note here that we are all sinners. We may consider the sins and evil that others do to be worse than we would do. However, sin is sin, in whatever form, and needs God’s mercy for forgiveness. One needs to pray constantly for that forgiveness, for we sin constantly. That is why the true Christian should be in prayer, even for his enemies and persecutors.
Paul begins this section with, “Bless those who persecute you”. How difficult this is! But on the Cross we hear Jesus say, “Father,
forgive them, for they know not what they do”. We are told that when Jesus was reviled, He did not retaliate…”He reviled not again”. In
the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the prophet predicted, in his description of the coming Savior, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He
opened not His mouth”. That is our role model. How difficult is that to follow?
One of the most graphic examples in the New Testament, is the case of Stephen. Dying from the stones thrown by his enemies, and in the presence of a man named Saul of Tarsus, he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”. Certainly, this forgiving attitude on the part of a follower of Jesus Christ had much to do with the change which made Paul, the Apostle, a much more avid follower of the Lord he had once persecuted. No sermon is as powerful in converting one to Christ as the forgiving spirit on the part of a dedicated Christian.
In verse 20 Paul says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him to drink”. At this point, I think it important for us to
take a moment to think about the principles involved here. Because, earlier in this chapter, Paul has said, “Hate evil and love good”, I am sure he does not mean that we are to encourage evil, nor reward the perpetrators of it. In the next chapter, he is to say the government
does not bear the sword in vain. Evil is to be opposed, and those who practice it are subjects for punishment. The admonishions here in chapter 12, have to do with your personal reactions. We are not to reward misbehavior, but we must not take personal vengeance just because we have been insulted, or personally abused. It is a matter of selflessness, modesty and self-denial, which are the most difficult attributes of Jesus for a human being in this world to attain. It was personal and selfish ambition that caused Adam to commit the first sin.
Making a judgement about when to condemn a person for wrong behavior, and when to refrain from judgement is a very difficult task.
A minister has two jobs to do in the pulpit…preach the truth and condemn error. When Jesus said, “Judge not that you be not judged”, He gave the preacher and every Christian a difficult task. It takes great wisdom to decide when something is wrong morally or ethically, or if I think it wrong because it violates my personal standards and taste. It is easy for a preacher to get so used to finding what is wrong and urging it to be corrected that he can easily become a constant critic. However, following the pattern of Jesus is never easy. He warned that to do so would cause the world to hate you and all of us have a lot of the world in us.
Therefore, this means that being a Christian is a 24/7 undertaking and that prayer without ceasing is a constant need. You can’t do all
the ritual things at church on Sunday and then use your worldly judgement to run your life for the rest of the week. Commitment
to Jesus Christ means being sanctified, or holy, and these words mean different and set apart from the world. John calls it “walking in the light”, but it does mean maintaining a personal relationship with Him, not just carrying out a few rules and regulations. All of us fail, but those who have true faith in Him continue to try and take their
failures to Him in prayer at the foot of the Cross.