There is a common saying, “like father, like son.” While we often think about it, we see how some actions or gestures from our children are copied from what they see and learn from us, their parents. As Christians, being the children of God, we must show to this world what we continually learn from our heavenly Father. The apostle Paul wrote,
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
Let us meditate about this text for a short time,
Render Evil For Evil.
As part of the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taught to the Jews that were present there,
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:38-42).
Jesus through simple words provided a clear explanation of what is the plan of God toward man, which certainly it is not what man thinks. He quoted the law when he said “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24; Deuteronomy 19:21; Leviticus 24:20), but, the Jews were not practicing what God approved of their law, but the tradition that they kept over the generations. That is why Jesus explained to them at that time, and to us through the Scriptures today, what is right according to the will of God. The law was to seek for an answer to the crime through a judicial process, and not through individual or personal retaliation, as the perverted tradition of the Jews was teaching. By resist not evil, He does not mean that those who do wrong toward us must receive the same kind of wrong back from us. It is not about fighting fire with fire, but instead to extinguish it.
It is also interesting to see how the world today keeps saying “go the extra mile” in the sense of giving additional efforts on doing something. Our Lord did not tell us to go the extra mile, but to duplicate the one that is already stated. It is not about adding one, but to duplicate the one given.
The Lord gives us more details on how to accomplish this in the following verses,
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
And the apostle Paul keep this teaching in his letter to the Romans,
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).
We do not fight fire with fire, because it will make the fire bigger, but we fight it with water to calm it and finally, extinguish it. The only way we can overcome evil is not by doing evil things as payback, but by doing the good things that God teaches us through His Word.
Follow That Which Is Good.
Because Noah followed that which was good, He and his family were the only survivors of the flood (Genesis 7:23; 1 Peter 3:20). Abraham did what was good by obeying God, even to the point of taking his beloved son to the altar and be ready to sacrifice him (Genesis 22), and in doing this and other good things, the Bible clearly teaches us that, because of his righteousness, he was called the Friend of God (James 2:23).
God created us in his own image (Genesis 1:26-27), and He loves us so much that He gave his only Begotten Son (John 3:16) for the forgiveness of our sins, and not only ours, but the ones of the entire world (1 John 2:2). Our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ keep teaching in the Sermon on the Mount,
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:45-48).
We must follow that which is good because it is the right thing to do!
The letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11, provides records of real man, not characters of a fairy tale, who lived in this world, just like we do today, and did good things because of their faith toward God. The writer of this letter beautifully wrote,
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Are we diligently seeking Him? Are we following that which is good? Are we doing what He commanded us to do? Let us remember the words written to those in Galatia,
“For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith [emphasis added]” (Galatians 6:5-10).
It was the same writer who said to those in Rome,
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good … Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord [all emphasis added]” (Romans 12:9, 17-19).
We cannot be hypocrites, the apostle John tells us how, if we cannot love our brother or sister whom we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see (1 John 4:20). Our Lord Jesus Christ told us that we must turn the other cheek, and the apostle Paul continues that teaching by telling us that we must live peaceably with all men. We cannot seek for vengeance, and certainly, we cannot expect that God avenge us in the sense of desiring evil to our enemies, but in understanding that, in Judgment Day, each one of us, whether just or unjust, will be on the seat, waiting for our Creator to let us know where we will spend our eternity.
Dear reader, every time you have a chance, read the entire 12th chapter of the book of Romans. In this one, the apostle Paul provides simple actions that we must do in order to be transformed to the Word of God, and not conformed to the traditions of this wicked world (Romans 12:1-2).
God has big plans for all of us, and He clearly stated in His Word that he does not want us to render evil for evil, but to follow that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:15). He is the Father who protects, guides, and loves His children! It is also God’s desire that no one perish but that everyone come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), to come back home, with Him, and with the family that He provides to His faithful children.
If you are in need to come back to Him, let us know, we will be more than glad to help you come back home.
God bless you!