April 28, 2023

JD Wilhelm
"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:19-21

The natural cycle that we perpetuate here on earth is one of vengeance. We all want to avenge ourselves. We want to retaliate and bring about justice on our own terms. We read about this problem all throughout the biblical storyline. But we are not to follow the way of the world. Instead, we are to leave the question of justice up to God, who is the only one who is perfectly just.

In light of that truth, Paul here is showing us an alternative way: grace. The simple fact about grace is that it is given in spite of ourselves, not because of ourselves. Grace is inherently unfair. But that is the whole point. Grace is not about fairness. And so, in the face of injustice, we are to feed our enemy. We are to give our enemy something to drink when they are thirsty. Yes, there is evil out there in the world. But we, as the people of God, are to meet it in the way that God met it: with love and grace.

When God came in the person of Jesus to defeat evil, He didn’t do it by using an even greater evil. Instead, God died for His enemy. For it is at the cross that we see how His real power is in giving up His life. To be consumed with thoughts of vengeance is thus to keep evil in circulation. To stop the cycle of evil, rather than perpetuating it, we must be a people who radically respond with grace. So let us reflect on this grace of Christ today and allow it to fill us so that we may live these truths out in a new way.