“Return evil for evil to no one. Provide fine things in the sight of all men.”—ROMANS 12:17.
WHEN a child is shoved by a sibling, usually the child’s first reaction is to shove back. Sadly, such tit-for-tat behavior is not limited to children. Many adults act similarly. When offended by someone, they want to get even. Granted, most adults will not give a literal shove, but many will push back in subtle ways. Perhaps they spread harmful gossip about the offender or find ways to prevent him from succeeding. Whatever method is used, the intent is the same—to repay in kind, to retaliate.
Although the urge to get even is deep-seated, true Christians resist giving in to it. Instead, they strive to follow the apostle Paul’s admonition: “Return evil for evil to no one.” (Romans 12:17) What will motivate us to live according to that high standard? Whom in particular should we not repay with evil? What benefits will be reaped if we refrain from getting even? To answer those questions, let us study the context of Paul’s words and see how Romans chapter 12 shows that refraining from retaliation is the right, the loving, and the modest course to follow.