This verse is so good and so important for Christians to understand and take to heart. Paul is giving us some practical wisdom for guarding our image and witness as we continue on in our daily devotional. Before we dive in, I would love to hear in the comments below how Romans 12 has impacted you during this study! These verses have really caused me to evaluate my own heart and my Christian example. Verse 17 is no different!
I think the first half of this verse shows us two things. First, it shows us that this is important enough for Paul to mention it multiple times. In day six of our study, in Romans 12:14, Paul told us to bless those who persecute us. Later on in this study, we will see that he has even more to say about this topic. Clearly, Paul wants us to guard our hearts from ungodly retaliation. Jesus also had similar teachings while He was on earth. Christians don’t repay evil for evil. Christians leave it to God.
The other thing that the first half of Romans 12:17 shows us is that the second half of the verse is Paul’s focus. He mentions not repaying evil for evil because it is extremely important, but it is also simply an example to make the second half of the verse come to life. Christians are to give careful thought to doing what is honorable in the sight of everyone. How often we forget to consider this! Our example, the way that we live while everyone is watching, can have such a positive or negative impact on how the world views Christianity. Even more crucial, it impacts how the world views God.
This command from Paul cannot be taken lightly. I am afraid that we often forget that a lost world is watching how we live. Here is a truth that we may not want to hear: perception is reality in the eyes of a non-believer viewing the life of a Christian. There are things that we do, whether they are actually “good” or “bad” things on their own, that cause people to walk away from Christ, instead of towards Him. We have to give thought to these things. Are they worth doing if they pull people away from Christ? We must be willing to give up these things if it guards our image and makes God look great to the world around us. Seem unfair? Remember, Paul, the man writing this command, said that he would never eat meat again if it caused a brother to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13). Jesus, Himself, told us that we must deny ourselves (Luke 9:23). This, my friend, is Christianity!
Let’s make it simple as we close. We can simply give more thought to our actions, knowing that a lost world is watching. Doing honorable things is such an attractive example. Doing dishonorable things, like repaying evil with evil, is no example to the world. That is no different than how the world already lives. We must come to grips with deciding to guard our image and live a life that puts God’s glory on display, even when that means that we have to give up certain things and deny ourselves. This is not putting up a false image of ourselves, this is simply being careful to live in a way that points the world to Christ. What a godly life that is! What an example! That is a life worth living! I love this verse. More amazing truth is coming tomorrow in verse 18!
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- What are your initial thoughts after reading Romans 12:17?
- What is something that you have done that gave the wrong impression to a non-believer?