Summary: Christianity revolutionized the world because its teachings are so radically different than anything offered by this world’s other religions and philosophies. There is no better illustration of this than what it has to say regarding how to treat those who
Christianity revolutionized the world because its teachings are so radically different than anything offered by this world’s other religions and philosophies. There is no better illustration of this than what it has to say regarding how to treat those who are against us… to those who don’t like us… to those who abuse us.
Today, I would like for us to review what the Scriptures teach about how we are to deal with difficult people. How we are to treat people who treat us badly.
Whether you are a young boy or girl or whether a teenager or whether you are an adult, the things we learn today are very important. If we follow what God tells us, we will be happier people and make a real difference in this world. And I hope that each of us want to make a real difference in this world for God’s glory.
Let’s begin by learning a general principle that applies to every situation where we are dealing with people. We can find this principle taught in many places but we will first look at Romans Chapter 12.
Verse 17, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”
What does this mean?
What this means is that when someone does something bad to us (evil), we are not to do something bad back to them. When someone does something hurtful and mean to us, we are not to do something hurtful and mean back. To do bad to others when they do bad to us is called ’paying back evil for evil’.
Verse 21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Here, we find the important second part of our general principle. We are not to do bad things to others when they do bad things to us because if we do, we become just like them. We have allowed them to control what we do. We have allowed their bad behavior to conquer us and make us respond in a bad way. We have been “overcome by evil.”
Let me give an example that even our young people can understand. In the movie “Star Wars”, the Emperor and Darth Vader are evil. They do bad things. Luke Skywalker is a good person. But, the Emperor and Darth Vader start doing bad things to Luke and his friends. They want Luke to get angry and hateful so that Luke will become just like them - evil. They want Luke to join the Dark Side. If Luke let’s the Emperor and Darth Vader make him ‘return evil for evil’, they have beaten Luke. Luke has been “overcome by evil.”
Paul says instead of being “overcome by evil”, we should “overcome evil with good.” That means we don’t allow the bad things that people do to us make us do bad but we fight against it by being good.
Again, if you remember from Star Wars, Luke Skywalker told the Emperor and Darth Vader that he would not fight them. When the Emperor told Luke to kill his father - Darth Vader - he refused. Luke’s determination to not behave badly when he was treated badly had a deep impact upon Darth Vader. It caused Darth Vader to change and decide to be good. Luke “overcame evil with good.”
A Christian is to be a Luke Skywalker. We are to overcome evil by refusing to let the bad actions of others make us turn bad or behave badly. We are to overcome the evil of others by acting better than they act.
That leads us to our next Scripture…
1 Thessalonians 5:15, “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.”
Paul repeats the principle here but uses a bit different words. He tells us not to repay evil for evil - treating others bad when they treat us bad. In stead, he says that we must always seek to treat others good. Whatever would be good for the other person, that we must do…..even if they have treated us badly.
That is not easy! It is not easy to do something good for someone who has been mean to us. It is not easy to do good for someone who has hurt us. It is not easy to do good for someone who hates us. In fact, it can be right down hard. But, that is what is commanded of us as Christians.
Do you know what it is called when you treat others good after they treat you bad? Its called love. Not just any kind of love, but a very special love. The most amazing kind of love in the universe - agape love. It’s the kind of love that comes from God.