“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “ Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “ if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
How much to we give thought to do? What do I mean? Our text says “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” This paragraph is full of exhortations of what we are to do while we are in the midst of persecution. And these principles would transcend whether the persecution was jail or jealously, laughter or lions, slander or slapping. The point though is that we are to think about what we are to do before we are in the midst of persecution.
We are to give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Honorable in the sight of all is blessing the individuals who slander and persecute you; it is seeking to live at peace with your enemies; it is giving your enemy food and drink when they are hungry; it is never cursing them, never seeking to get revenge, never being haughty nor wise in your own sight. Honorable is seeking to live at peace and harmony with all people as far as it depends upon you.
Does this mean that all Christians are to be pacifists? Didn’t Jesus himself tell us that if someone slaps our cheek we are to turn and give them the other? Does that mean that if a burglar comes into our home and wants to take our television we are to turn and give him our wife and kids as well? Absolutely not! Men are called to defend the truth! They are called to protect and have dominion over the earth. They are called to grab an army of men and go rescue their nephew Lot from the hands of those who captured him (Genesis 14). How is this consistent with Jesus words to “turn the other cheek?” Turning the other cheek is perfectly consistent with what we see here in Romans 12 and what we read in Genesis 14. We are always to turn our cheek to those who are insulting and slandering us. If someone is “slapping your cheek,” it is not intended to kill you. A slap is open-handed, and intends to humble and mock you. A punch is much different and we are called as Christians to defend our families to the death from those who what to punch or kill them. We are never called to defend our own honor to the death.
A Pastor told me that if a burglar broke into your home, pointed a gun at you and you yourself had a gun neatly holstered to your side; it was more loving of you to kill him then let him kill you. If you kill him, you are preventing him from committing the sin of murder. If you let him kill you, he becomes guilty of murder and probably a whole assortment of other sins which will follow if he is without restraint in your home.
Tough things to think though. This text is calling us to give thought to how we will respond to situations as they come. Truth is intended to sanctify and prepare us for future endeavors.