Paul tells the Christians in Rome to “Abhor what is evil.” (1) Why would he need to tell them to do that? Isn’t it common sense—to hate evil? 🧐 Are people inclined to love evil? Well . . . 🙄 sometimes! Evil comes pretty naturally to us. And we are very good at covering our actions so they do not appear evil. And what is bad for other people is not necessarily bad for me. 😬 My reasons are justifiable. I promise.
But it is undeniably clear what we are to do. We are to abhor (hate, detest, recoil from, run for dear life from 🏃♀️—my favorite🙂, regard with horror, abominate, despise, detest, deplore, disdain, and loathe) evil (iniquity, sin, villainy, wrong, atrocities, devilry, fiendishness, corruption, depravity, and that which is morally unacceptable).
Yes. It’s obvious how we should approach this directive. Why then does Paul reiterate with this warning: “Repay no one evil for evil”? (2) If it is clear that we are to run for dear life from evil, then why are we tempted to seek revenge? I think it is because good is slippery. What? 😦 Yeah. Right after Paul writes, “Abhor what is evil,” he adds, “hold fast to what is good.” (1) We need to hold on tightly to good or it will slip away from us. You see, good is slippery; evil, on the other hand, sticks with us. Good and evil are always at odds with one another. And evil often disguises itself as good, so it is hard to know what to do sometimes. That’s why I think Paul gives us a list of things we should not do—as if we would be more inclined to do the evil things than the good ones.
Here’s the list: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and DO NOT curse them.” (3) “DO NOT be haughty, but associate with the lowly.” (4) “NEVER BE wise in your own sight.” (4) “Repay NO ONE evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” (5) “IF POSSIBLE, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (6) “Beloved, NEVER AVENGE yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” (7) “TO THE CONTARY, if your enemy is hungry feed him.” (8)
My favorite one is this: “If [your enemy] is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will HEAP BURNING COALS on his head.” (8). It sounds like by doing something good, it will feel like we are doing something bad, which will make us feel good! 😏 Why does that make me smile? Because I kinda’ like doing rebellious stuff and being the bad guy sometimes. I grow weary of being a goody two shoes. I like to shock people at times. Don’t you? 😉
And there’s the rub. It’s not funny. Evil. It is not fun. It is dark and dangerous. As a matter of fact, if we are not careful, it will destroy us. Even so, it will be tempting. So listen carefully to the last word on the matter. “DO NOT be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (9) Hmm. 🧐 Evil will overcome (defeat, annihilate, conquer, overwhelm, and get the best of) us. It is an ongoing battle to cling to what is good and repel what is evil. And that is why Paul mentions it. And warns us about it. And commands us to Abor what is evil. To run for dear life from it. And hold on for dear life to what is good.
(1) Romans 12:9 (2) Romans 12:17 (3) Romans 12:14 (4) Romans 12:16 (5) Romans 12:17 (6) Romans 12:18 (7) Romans 12:19 (8) Romans 12:20 (9) Romans 12:21