“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”
This is my 5th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as the 10th and 11th (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists for us on how to live our lives as Christians. These two guidelines really relate back to the Ten Commandments and seem like no brainer. Seriously, if I had a quarter for every time I have said, “Please treat people how you want to be treated – NOT how they treat you.” to my children, I would have enough money to dig 20 wells in Africa. You may say this as often as I do, however, my question for us today is do we live this out? And if so, how? It’s so easy to say these words until someone drives by you, blares his horn and gives you the lift of the third finger from your pinky or thumb. It’s effortless to remind our children or friend when they are in a situation where someone has wronged them to turn the other cheek, but it’s all together different when we have to harness the anger and do good back to the one who has harmed us.
Therefore (1) encourage one another and (2) build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to (3) respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and (4) to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (5) Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, (6) admonish the idle, (7) encourage the fainthearted, (8) help the weak, (9) be patient with them all. (10) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but (11) always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (12) Rejoice always, (13) pray without ceasing, (14) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (15) Do not quench the Spirit. (16) Do not despise prophecies, (17) but test everything; (18) hold fast what is good. (19) Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, (20) pray for us. (21) Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to (22) have this letter read to all the brothers. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25
This is a muscle that needs constant exercising in my own life. Words are the evil that I deal with most often. As a Christian (privately and publicly as an author) when I’m in a group of people and they find out what I do. Depending on the group, I am instantly judged as whatever they have conceived or experienced Christians to be in the past. It can be a real conversation stopper. However, sometimes it the words that are spoken about me (and not to my face), but other friends that feel evil and can hurt the most. Thankfully, I don’t find out about most of the evil words, but when I do, it can be difficult to release it back to God, forgive and forget so that the next time I encounter this person I am not repaying them with the cold shoulder or rude comment. After all, that would be “evil for evil.” I’ve even started practicing going out of my way for some of these people and thoughtfully loving on them with a meal or card. I tell you this not to make you feel sorry for me (because we all deal with this type of evil) or to boast because I can promise you that 10 years ago I was incapable of this and didn’t even have the desire to try because God wasn’t present in my life as He is today. Sad, but true! Only God can harness evil and that includes the evil in our own hearts – not just the evil in others.
It is God’s power, God’s strength, God’s mercy, God’s love, God’s patience, God’s courage and God’s grace that give me the ability to always seek to do good to everyone (despite their actions) – no my own. I’m living proof God can get in a heart, stir things up and revise it to more like His. This isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright painful sometimes. I know loving EVERYONE will continue to become a challenge with each day I wake. Especially as my children grow up and face more trials and evil that I want to protect them from and respond to, but I’m praying I don’t lose sight of the fact that by standing firm and keeping a strong grip on Christ, there is hope (“a wonderful hope”), that I will continue to respond in love. Trusting God to handle all the rest.
I want to leave you with these beautiful words that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.
Now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope,
comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.