February 15

February 15, 2021
By: Gabriel Tseng

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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 12:17-21

Paul’s hefty letter leads us to a glorious piece in chapter 12, where he outlines much of what it means to live as a living sacrifice. We are spiritual lineage, continuing to live on not as martyrs who’ve died, but now living sacrifices. It’s an amazing take to confuse and continue to challenge the limited use of the Old Testament sacrificial system. With Jesus as the final perfect sacrifice, we no longer make sacrifice to atone for our sins, but a living sacrifice lived out in response to the greatest grace given to us. 

This is how doing good to our enemies seems to work. When living in light of the glorious sacrifice God made for us in Jesus, seeing ourselves as His enemies, it allows us, compels us, and guides us to be generously gracious to those who are also our enemies. If we continue to carry with us, and it is very human to, a sense that we somehow earned or deserved the grace of God, we will also begin to judge incorrectly who Jesus came to save. It’s amazing to me still that the Father in Luke 15 loved not only the younger prodigal son who went away, but also the older prodigal son within His very home. There are those that in my heart of hearts, I deem worthy, that God will surely draw to Him. But God often confounds my human thinking by doing amazing things in ways I thought barely possible. He chides me to think bigger and better of Him. He is more generous than I think. He is more loving than I know. 

We began the ALPHA discussion group a while ago. I really had few expectations and I was surprised each step of the way. I didn’t think that people would want to do it, but we have some wonderful people joining me in the journey. I didn’t think people would want to do it over zoom video, but that worked out. When I invited my neighbor, then my sister, I had low expectations, but they came. My perspective and my heart have changed during this season. 

I love how Paul exhorts us in essence, to do good in light of the grace given to us in Christ, not for the results. Our work, our walk, the very lives we live are not done primarily for results. I love results, but we are faithful because God has and continues to be faithful to us. We trust Him for what He wills, but we are faithful with what we are given, our very lives. In loving enemies, it seems a harsh word and a difficult word. As I marinate on this word, I find it softer and full of grace when in light of the sacrifice of Christ, and the life He gives us now. We are bought with a price. It was free to give, but surely very costly. If the life I now live is by the Son of God, it is no longer my life, but His life in me. I obey and follow, not for hope of results, but because of gratitude and love to the Father who made me His son. 

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