二○一九年七月二十日／七月二十一日 Click here for English version
Do Not Repay Evil with Evil
Rev Arnold Chow
Movies on vengeance are invariably popular, and it is easy to understand why they make box office hits. Even if we have not really experienced the tragedy depicted in the movie story, we must have found ourselves in some sort of evil circumstances, been subjected to evil treatment, or have been insulted. We hate to see our hands tied, not being able to do anything to rectify the situation. We may even long for retaliation – to pay back the other party ten times for what they have done.
But the Bible says: "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing" (1 Peter 3:9). The verse in this context clearly states that vengeance is not an option.
Obviously in cycles like this, both the evil doer and the one who takes revenge have good reasons to justify their next act of vengeance. The violence and damage goes on and on. There are many examples in history: terrible evil deeds are handed down from generation to generation. "Repaying evil with evil" can only extend the vicious cycle, making humankind slaves to sin and darkness.
The Bible verse above exhorts the people of God against repaying evil for evil, insult for insult and to make a totally different response to attacks. Those of us who are treated with unfairness, rejection, insults or persecution should not react with curse, vengeance, or repay people tenfold for what they have done. On the contrary, we should respond with blessing in good deeds and prayer.
Such a response is not just intended to change the other party, but the result is that we will "inherit a blessing." When we refuse to "repay evil with evil" and consciously get away from vengeance, we are preventing our lives from being oriented by other people's evil. We are declaring that we will not live with a twisted heart full of hatred, which breeds evil and brings lifelong bondage to sin.
Peter who has drawn his sword in the darkness of Gethsemane understood this most deeply. He witnessed Jesus facing extreme systemic and individual violence, insults and humiliation but Jesus did not "repay evil with evil" or "insult with insult." On the contrary, Jesus took up His cross and broke the “evil breeds evil” cycle. In accomplishing salvation, He enabled us to be "redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors" (1 Peter 1:18b). We become His people and have freedom in Him so we not only can consciously stop “repaying evil for evil” but can also respond with good deeds.
Today, even in the face of evil deeds or insults, we should still turn our focus on the Lord in the conviction that He will "reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve" (Jeremiah 32:19). At the same time, let us not forget to pray for others' salvation, because it is "to this you were called."