We’ve been studying Romans in the jail Bible study. We broke the guys into two groups of three for about 15 minutes to discuss it among themselves before sharing with the whole group. When we came back together both groups shared similar observations and summed up the chapter saying: as believers we aren’t to repay evil for evil.
Whenever I think about Romans 12 I tend to want to hang around the first two verses where Paul pleads for the reader to present all of themselves to God. He goes on to say this is our reasonable, or spiritual, service depending on your translation. Then he tells us we have to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I’ve always thought this was such a huge statement. The way we think or see things determines the way we respond to God and each other.
After the first two verses we go on to read what being transformed and having a renewed mind looks like. We stop thinking too highly of ourselves because all we have God gave to us. We begin to see other believers as part of a body with us whereas we used to see ourselves and others as independent of one another with each of us living our own lives. We begin to discover God has placed a gift and calling in each of us for the purpose of serving one another. We no longer are able to live just for ourselves because God has opened our eyes to our place in the body of Christ.
Brian Coatney, who I share teaching duties with, shared how the old man used to live only for himself. In the days of being lost the only thing that mattered was “Me” and how everyone and everything was going to benefit me. He said he never really thought about things being good or evil just how could he get what he wanted, even by the wrong means, without being caught. Everything is only there to further our own agenda even at the expense of others. Come on, if you’re honest we have all been there haven’t we? Now with our newly transformed and renewed mind we start to see things and behaviors as good and evil and we avoid the evil simply because it is evil. No longer are we seeking to further our own cause but rather we are beginning to want to help others.
Romans 12:15 especially caught my attention. It says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Questions came to mind like are you really happy for others when they succeed or receive a blessing? Do you ever get jealous maybe because someone else gets what you wanted? When someone is really hurting do you hurt too? You see, this is what being a part of the body of Christ is about. It is about being concerned for the well being of others. Before Christ I didn’t care about even myself let alone others. With the renewed mind we start to be “for others” rather than just our own wants and desires.
We finally come to the end. Paul sums up this chapter with “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is the ultimate expression of Christ. Although Christ never did anything to deserve the treatment he received and never fought back with evil, only love. He understood love covers a multitude of sin. Not only does Paul say not to give evil for evil he tells us to be a blessing to the ones that are being evil to us. He says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink…” Sometimes we just don’t engage with others at all we simply want to stay away. Paul doesn’t give us that option. He tells us we are to engage our enemy but we don’t wage war the way the world does we love them with the love of God and that’s unconditional. That kind of behavior only comes from being transformed.
Being a transformed person with a renewed mind we now see things from God’s perspective rather than just an earthly one. The world sees Christians as crazy because they can’t understand the ways of God. We Christians see a completely different angle on these things. Rather than seeing others as individuals bent on evil we see them with new eyes. We realize maybe they are going through something painful or extremely difficult so rather than punch back at them we pray. Before we would have never thought of that, but now the Holy Spirit lives within us and we are suddenly able to be for them instead of against them.
Written by Louie