We could easily pass by these passages and say, “That’s nice. I’ll do my best, but I can’t make any promises.” And many have read these verses and done that very same thing.
We belong to Christ and should care how the community we live in sees us. Not to impress them, but to honor the Lord. The watching world watches.
Our lives are on display.
Remember, this book was first a letter, a letter written by Paul and carried to the Roman Church be Phoebe, a fellow sister disciple. They had cause to take it seriously.
The main reason or cause of the hatred of the early Christians was their distinctive lifestyle. They were different. People will always be suspicious of people who are different from themselves. Conformity is the way to a trouble-free life.
Think about it. If we lived simply according to the Word, we will be different.
Our unconformity is an unspoken condemnation to the evildoers or followers of this world. Loving one another is not toleration of sin, but a command from Christ. If we criticize, condemn, or show our disapproval, then we are consciously self-righteous and condemning, not loving.
The bottom line here is that love is the true mark of a Christian. Everywhere we turn, our lives are on display because the gospel, by its very nature, brings a revolutionary attitude to human life.
Christians of the Past
In the year 64, the first listeners of this book or their children would face persecution. During the reign of Emperor Nero, a fire broke out in Rome. For six days and nights, the fire blazed, leaving most of the city in ashes. Rumor spread that Nero had done it and this citizen hated him for it.
To turn the citizens away from hating him, Nero accused the Christians.
Christians were arrested, persecuted, and even crucified. Some were sewn up in skins of wild animals, and then hungry dogs attacked them. Women were tied to mad bulls, who dragged them to their death. After nightfall, Nero burns Christians at the stake in his garden.
Peter and Paul were arrested at this time. Peter crucified, at his request, upside down because he told them he wasn’t worthy to die the death of Christ. Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded.
Their crime? Being a Christian.
“Public hatred asks but one thing, not the investigation of the crimes charged, but simply the confession of the Christian name.”Tortullian (prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.)
With new eyes, look at these passages.
The truth is, they conquered evil with good. The faced suffering with courage independent of the things of this world, and trusted the greater providence of eternal life.
Above although, the expression of love, Christian love, was among the most powerful causes of Christian success. Christian love is care for the poor, widows, and orphans. It is visiting the brethren in prison and acts of compassion during famine, earthquake, or war. It is love expressed in loving your neighbor.
Furthermore, it is the mark of a true Christian.
So, with this in mind, let’s take another look at these passages:
Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer… live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation… If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone… Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.(Romans 12:11-12, 16, 18)
We have a choice to live differently morally.
We are light in a dark world. Let us live as children of light. Our fellowship with God makes a difference.
This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him, and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from sin. If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:5-9)
By how we live and how we love, they will know we are children of God – children of the light. It’s not popular, will bring us not fame, but we have an eternal reward that surpasses this earthly one.
You belong to the Lord, and it will show in the way to live.
We are not different from the first generation Christians. Opposition rose and they suffered. But they lived the with God life.
They didn’t conquer evil with evil, but conquered evil with good. Rome would eventually become a Christian city and the world would be changed forever. Christian influence, Christian love, and biblical wisdom brought undeniable light into a dark world.
These all died in faith, although they had not received the things they were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on earth. Now, those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they are thinking brought where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place – a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a place for them. 6Hebrews 11:13-1
We cannot conquer evil with evil, we can only conquer it with good.
We are not called to take the world by force. No! We are called to love—sincere, active and real. We are also called to hate what is evil – detest all ungodliness and tolerate wickedness. Above all, take a good grasp of good.
They will know us by our love.
The once-born, disobedient, indifferent, and rebellious take their inner character and values from their father, the devil, and the world. We take ours from the Son of God, and out of His kindness and love we destroy the works of the devil.
Do not be surprised if the world hates you.
We conquer evil with good – the good dwelling in the depths of our soul because we do what is right in God’s eyes. In this, we walk in the Spirit, here we live in the Spirit of God and live in the Truth. This way they will know us less for our ethics and more for our love—aglow in the Spirit.
Bless those who persecute you (who cause you harm or hardship); bless and do not curse (them)… Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone… Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:14 & 17
Love one another!
In John 13:34-35, Jesus commanded us to love one another as He has loved us and that all people will know that we are His disciples because of our love for one another.
As we view the pas, live in the present and anticipate the future, let us live realizing that God will make all things right and that He will visit wrath on those who deserve it.
When we show God’s lovingkindness to others, then perhaps they may feel ashamed and repent. Christians, authentic and true, are to do good to wrongdoers. Why? Not because we tolerate their behavior, but because we recognize that God will punish them on the last day if they refuse to repent.
Overcoming evil with good isn’t easy, but it will include acts of kindness to even our enemy. Condemning the evil, seeking revenge, and shunning the enemy may feel good, but it is not good, pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.
If good was not the key to conquering the world, then God would not have called us to abhor evil, do good and live in love. If anyone had reason to hate their enemies, the first Christians in Rome would be justified.
But their love won the world, and ours will too.
Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures ll things. Love never ends… So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest is love.1 Corinthians 13:4-8a & 13