July 6, 2024
Peace

Reading

Romans 12:14-21 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 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.

Summary

In Romans 12:14-21, the Apostle Paul provides practical guidance on how to live at peace with others, even in the face of persecution or mistreatment. He begins by exhorting us to bless those who persecute us, rather than cursing them. This radical response goes against our natural inclinations, but it reflects the heart of Christ. Paul then encourages us to empathize with others, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. This builds unity and harmony in the body of Christ. He warns against pride and haughtiness, urging us to associate with the lowly and not be wise in our own sight. Humility is key to maintaining peaceful relationships. Paul also addresses how to respond when wronged, saying we should never repay evil for evil. Instead, we should strive to do what is honorable in the sight of all, living peaceably with everyone as far as it depends on us. This doesn't mean peace at all costs by compromising our convictions, but making every effort to be at peace whenever possible without violating our conscience before God. When treated unjustly, our human instinct is often to seek revenge. But Paul says we must resist this urge, leaving vengeance in God's hands. He will repay in His perfect justice. Rather than retaliating, we are called to show extraordinary kindness to our enemies - feeding them when hungry, giving them drink when thirsty. This Christlike response has the power to break the cycle of evil and overcome it with good. Though not easy, this is the pathway to peace that God calls us to walk as followers of Jesus.

Reflection

The call to live at peace in Romans 12 is both beautiful and challenging. In a world filled with division, hostility, and retaliation, Paul's words point us to a radically different way of engaging with others, especially those who mistreat us. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers, not just peace lovers. This means taking active steps to cultivate peace in our relationships and interactions, even when it's difficult. Blessing those who persecute us, rejoicing and weeping with others, associating with the lowly, and refusing to repay evil for evil - these are not just nice sentiments, but concrete ways we can reflect Christ to a watching world. They demonstrate the reality that our ultimate allegiance is to God's kingdom, not our own comfort, reputation, or rights. Living peaceably with all people doesn't mean we'll never experience conflict or that we should compromise our convictions for the sake of superficial harmony. But it does mean we should make every effort to resolve conflicts, forgive offenses, and show grace and kindness even to those who wrong us. This is the way of our Savior, who prayed 'Father, forgive them' even as He was being crucified. Of course, living out these exhortations is impossible in our own strength. Our natural response is to defend ourselves, nurse bitterness, and lash out at others. But as we abide in Christ and allow His Spirit to fill and transform us, He empowers us to respond supernaturally with blessing instead of cursing, kindness instead of retaliation. This doesn't mean we become doormats or never stand up for justice. But it does mean we entrust ultimate justice to God, refusing to be overcome by evil and striving instead to overcome evil with good. As we do, we become conduits of Christ's reconciling love and peace in a fractured world. Living peaceably is not just a suggestion for Christians, but a command. It's a high calling that requires dying to self, walking in humility, and extending lavish grace and forgiveness. But as we obey God in this, we experience the blessing of being called His children and become instruments of His shalom. May we embrace the challenge to be makers and maintainers of peace, for the glory of God and the witness of the gospel.

Prayer

Gracious God, Your ways are higher than our ways. In a world that celebrates winning at all costs, You call us to the upside-down way of peace, humility, and blessing our enemies. Left to ourselves, we could never live out this calling. But we thank You that in Christ, You have not left us to ourselves. Through the power of Your indwelling Spirit, enable us to walk as people of peace. When we are persecuted or mistreated, give us grace to bless and not curse. In the face of evil, help us not to be overcome, but to overcome evil with good. Align our hearts with Yours, that we would rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Forgive us for the times we have responded to offense with retaliation, to criticism with defensiveness, to slights with bitterness. Purify our hearts and renew our minds, that we might reflect the gentleness and grace of our Savior. Make us instruments of Your reconciliation and ambassadors of Your peace. Where there is division, use us to bring unity. Where there is hostility, use us to extend kindness. Where there is brokenness, use us to bring healing. May our lives be living testimonies to the power of Your love to break down dividing walls of hostility. We entrust ourselves - our reputation, our rights, our wounds - to You, knowing that vengeance and justice belong to You alone. Help us to walk humbly, love mercy, and live peaceably with all, insofar as it depends on us. Thank You that in a world of turmoil, You are our perfect peace. Root us deeply in Your love, that we may have strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of Your boundless shalom. In the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Generated Image(s)

Here is a poetic caption for the image: Peaceful waters, tranquil hills - A soul at rest, God's presence fills. Amid the world's unceasing strife, This sacred space, a haven of life.

Here is a poetic caption for the image:

Peaceful waters, tranquil hills -
A soul at rest, God's presence fills.
Amid the world's unceasing strife,
This sacred space, a haven of life.

This image was generated by AI from the devotion text.