Living honorably and peaceably
Bo Gray -“YOU BE NICE”– My mother was the kindest, gentlest, most loving person I have every known. I cannot
remember my mother ever saying anything harsh about anyone. She did not condone bad behavior, but would always be willing to forgive and forget. If someone had done something wrong, she might say, “They didn’t know any better,” or, “They were not taught to not do that,” or, “They didn’t really mean that.” She was always willing to forgive
From my early childhood until the last few years that she lived, anytime I was getting ready to leave she would always say, “You be nice.” In my earlier years, she meant for me to not get into trouble, or to not do something that I should not do. I have since come to believe that she also meant that I should always treat everyone with love and respect, just as she did, and that I should always be willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even though they may
have said or done something hurtful.
In Romans 12:17-18, Paul begins by saying, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” He ends with, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The last four words of the chapter 12 are, “Overcome evil with good.” I encourage all of us to, “BE NICE,”
Jack Vanderpool – CHOOSING PEACE I recall the words of a minister who was being lambasted in public media by one man for a sermon he preached. When asked about what he was going to say about the critic, his comment was “He has the prettiest blue eyes. His response was an unexpected way of demonstrating the Romans 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
It seems to be our human nature to be seek revenge. The Internet is full of stories of people “getting even.” Some psychologists believe we are hard-wired for revenge. We all know that betrayal and social rejection hurt. Studies indicate that our desire to repair that pain and improve our mood may be one of the things that motivates us to seek revenge. Additionally, findings show that revenge can feel really good in the moment. However, subjects reported that five minutes, 10 minutes and 45 minutes later, they actually felt worse than they did before they sought revenge.
Scriptures repeatedly admonish us to not be revengeful and to fight that part of our human nature and so far, as it depends on us to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).
A few years ago, in a Fort Worth suburb a goat escaped from its pen and made its way to the local high school. The security camera captured this goat repeatedly butting its head into its reflection in the glass doors. Eventually it did shatter the glass door. It seems to me that those that take revenge are similar to the goat.
When we let someone “get our goat” our angry reaction often results in action we deeply regret. We let ourselves get angry at the words, actions, or deeds of certain people and often react like the goat and do things that are senseless.
Phil Robertson – Living honorably and peaceably seems to be increasingly difficult in today’s world. Many folks of my age recall a time when civility and courtesy were the norm rather than the exception. When I look back on the last half of the 20th century, I realize that, in reality, behavior has changed little. Evil, however, has shed its costume and is acting “mainstream” and seeking greater acceptance. God’s challenge for me, as stated in our passage for October, is the same as in previous times: to live with honor and to seek peace with others.
Living honorably has been a challenge since the Garden of Eden. I have always been taught that revenge is wrong (Romans 12:19), but I would put revenge in the class of something like the Hatfields and McCoys, or a blood feud. But our verse 17 lowers the bar on behavior that I may characterize as “giving them a taste of their own medicine” or “teaching them a lesson.” In 1974 I read a book entitled “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less” by Jeffrey Archer. It is a story about “payback” in which three men were swindled out of millions of dollars by a conman and they plotted to get their money back without the swindler realizing they had recovered what they had lost down to the exact penny. It was a very clever and enjoyable tale. As a fraud investigator I found the story very appealing.
God tells me that I should not be “clever” or deceitful in any of my relationships. Jesus tells me plainly in Matthew 5:31-37 that I should be honest in all that I do. Not only am I to be honest, I am to be honorable. Honesty is how I relate to truth; honorable is how I relate to others. Second Cor. 8:21 tells me to regard honor, NOT ONLY IN THE SIGHT OF the LORD, but also in the sight of men. Honorable behavior goes to the root of my regard for God as demonstrated by my regard for those God created and Christ died for.
I often tell myself that peace in life is my goal (Romans 12:18). Yet conflict is what I find interesting in most aspects of my life. I may characterize it as “competition” or “just business,” but conflict has been a staple of my life. After all, I don’t want to read a book where the plot lacks “drama” or a villain or the good guy doesn’t win in the end. My challenge is not to incorporate conflict into my life and the lives of others. I need to let God fight my battles and to trust His judgement. I fear I am still a work in progress.