Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.– Romans 12:17
The last few verses taught us the ATTITUDE of the Christian. These next few verses teach what should be the ACTION of the Christian. If we get our attitudes right, the right actions will follow.
“Recompense to no man evil for evil.” Is this not against our nature? It is in our carnal nature to desire evil on others in payment for evil done to us. We’ve all had it happen. Someone cuts us off on the road. “That car thinks he’s better than me. I hope he gets what deserves.” When the Lord was wronged, how did He respond? “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). There have been so many times that I have wished evil on those who have wronged me. It didn’t do any good though. I have, however, experienced satisfying peace in wishing blessing on those who have wronged me (See Our Attitudes: The Blessing of Others for more on this subject). This is a very important doctrine to nail down. Paul spoke on this subject a few verses back in verse 14. He also brings it BACK up in 1 Thessalonians 5:15. Peter discusses it in 1 Peter 3:9. The Lord preaches it in Matthew 5:44, 49. Why must we get our vengeance now? Do we not trust the Lord as Judge? Do we not think the Lord will pronounce righteous judgment? The Lord says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
Instead of rendering evil for evil, we are told to “provide things honest in the sight of all men.” Usually, when we see the word “honest” we assume it is referring to telling the truth. Telling the truth is definitely a way to be honest, but honest in the English language actually has more to do with being honorable. This is clearly seen in the common saying, “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” This saying is talking about working honorably and respectably. When people wrong us, our carnal nature wants to get revenge. Instead, our ACTIONS are to be HONORABLE or HONEST. Our actions should be worthy of respect. Do you see what this means? When someone wrongs us, the way we respond should cause that person to honor you! We should act in such a way that we are respected! This is a hard feat to accomplish if our carnal nature is calling the shots.
Notice lastly the words “no man” and “all men.” Recompense to NO MAN evil for evil. There is NEVER NEVER EVER a case where it is OK to render evil for evil. We are to provide things honest in the sight of ALL MEN – not just at church, but EVERYWHERE. We should conduct our lives RESPECTABLY everywhere! Do people respect you at your work? When someone leaves a mess for you to clean up, how do you respond? I’ve found that a sweet, serving spirit goes a long way. When people talk, listen. Act in such a way as to let them know you care for them. This will gain you respect. Listen to what was said of Samuel, one of the greatest prophets of the Bible – “And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men” (1 Samuel 2:26). Our Lord Himself during His earthly ministry grew in favour with God and MAN (Luke 2:52). I don’t find anywhere in the Bible where Christians are to be mean, haughty, and so separated that we’re not respected. We may be hated, yes. We are told that would happen (1 John 3:13). This hatred is not for us though, the hatred the world has toward us is actually aimed at our Lord (John 7:7; 15:18). Though the world may hate us, they should respect us.
Are you living honorably?