Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.—Romans 12:17
When my wife gets mad at me, she does not yell or throw plates or change the locks; no, her disdain is subtle—she gives me the silent treatment. She does this because she knows it absolutely drives me mad; I’d rather dodge a plate or two than endure her grumpy silences. And I notice a recurring theme inside me when this goes on, all I can think about is how I’m going to pay her back. Oh, you want to be mean to me, well two can play that game, Mrs. Gordon! My technique to really get her good is to become totally self-sufficient. I pay the bills without her reminders, I come and go without notes, I give kisses goodbye just to rub it in, and I prepare my own meals. I’m trying to kill her with kindness and show her that, hey, I don’t need you all that much.
This is ludicrous, of course, but in my pea-sized brain and poisoned heart, it is justified because she is being mean to me.
And then I read my Bible (this never goes well!), and it slaps me around real good: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.”
This goes against every fabric of society. In our lives, if someone talks bad about you behind your back, you talk bad about them behind theirs. If someone is rude to your kids, you are rude to theirs. If someone causes you damage, you damage them. Vengeance is a justified notion in our world, and we meet evil head on with evil, a wretched mutation of the golden rule that reads, “Do unto others as they have done to you” or “Don’t take nothing from nobody!”
But love, the genuine kind at least, doesn’t keep score. It doesn’t only manifest on the warm days and sunny times, but it is ever-present and not contingent on circumstances. It is pure, undefiled, and given without distinction. Love is not hell-bent on being “right,” but committed to being righteous.
So who are you doing good to today that absolutely is unworthy of that good? Who has done you wrong that you are loving anyway? Are you carefully pursing what is right in the eyes of everyone, or are you playing love by ear—just seeing how things go first?