Romans 12:14-21 Devotional

Start by reading Romans 12:14-21

This passage asks one major question: what do you do when the world mistreats you? 

In John 15:18, Jesus tells us we’re going to be hated because the world hates him. What do you do in that situation? Here’s Paul’s answer: support one another and humbly bear up under it, trusting that the Lord will take vengeance.

He gives us two ways to do that:

First, be a loving community. Care enough about people that you know when they’re rejoicing and when they’re weeping and why, so that you can join them in it. Live humbly–find a way to legitimately believe that others are better than you. Doing this will make the church a refuge where you and others can flee when the world is causing you to suffer.

Second, don’t enact vengeance, but love your enemy. Verse 19 is clear: “never avenge yourselves.” Why can’t we avenge ourselves? It’s not because Christians are supposed to be wimpy and polite. It’s because we entrust ourselves to the just judge of the universe. We suffer now because we know that justice will be served some day.

Instead of enacting vengeance, Paul tells us what to do: tangible acts of loving service toward the same people who persecute us. Why? Because it’s impossible for us to lose! Either they respond to that love with faith in Christ and you gain a brother, or they reject that love and God’s judgment piles up against them, so that some day you will be avenged.

Either way, the appropriate response is love–specifically, tangible acts of loving service.

So let’s recap: when persecution comes our way, we respond by humbly bearing up under it and trusting that God will take vengeance for us. This looks like laboring to be a loving community, and refusing to take vengeance, choosing instead to love our enemies in tangible ways.

God calls us to hard things sometimes–but always good things.