Week 5- How Does God Want Me to Respond?
My Response Will Reflect My Ability to Move Beyond the Ordinary!
As Paul continues to instruct us in the way of life in Christ, he gets into practical advice on relationships, including conflict. Revenge puts dry wood on the fire of hatred. The only way to extinguish the fire is to stop supplying the fuel. The Lord calls us to be a witness to love in the face of hatred, a witness to grace in the face of antagonism, a witness to the power of love to break the cycle of retaliation. How I respond to evil done against me will go a long way to determine my walk with Christ.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Romans 12:14-21)
1. Think of one family member and one person you work with who most often cause you stress. What kinds of interactions with them are you least proud of? What kinds of responses from you would surprise them?
2. Recall an upsetting situation where someone did not treat you properly. What made it hard to leave retaliation to God?
3. Which of God's attributes give you the most confidence leaving retaliation to God?
4. How has a friend helped you respond well to a person who made you upset? What did the friend do that was most helpful to you?
5. Think of a person who has hurt you in the past or may be in the present. What would be the most comfortable way to apply this passage with them?
6. What do you think Paul meant by “...evil conquer you” [vs 21]?
7. Recall a situation where someone expressed to you that they didn't think you treated them respectfully. Tracing the cause of their feeling back a few steps, what attitudes, mindset or mood in you led to that? If you could go back, what would you do differently?
8. What is the most challenging aspect of living “at peace with everyone” [vs 18]?
9. What aspect of dealing with conflicts do you most want God's help getting better at?
Think of the friend, coworker, client or family member who isn't following Jesus and most needs to adopt the values of this passage. What is the most likely way they would start wanting to following Jesus?
What can we do together to better help one another live the lifestyle we’ve looked at today?
12:14. Now comes the hard evidence that believers in the church were being persecuted, and with it the need for evidence that these believers were responding as living sacrifices. Paul paraphrases Jesus’ words to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and “bless those who curse you” (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27-28). Jesus Himself was the chief example of blessing the enemy when He prayed for those who were torturing and crucifying Him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).12:15. Identifying with others in their joys and sorrows is evidence of love flowing from one who is a living sacrifice. These are admonitions that Paul had made in his lengthy writing on body dynamics in 1 Corinthians 12 (cf. v. 26). He also touches the subject in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and Galatians 6:2.12:16. This verse provides evidence of possible internal conflicts within the church in Rome—class and racial distinctions that caused some to look down on others in contempt. There were no doubt slaves in the church, as well as people of means (cf. Paul’s personal greetings to members of the church in Rom. 16). Also, there was the possibility that Jews in the church were maintaining a position of superiority over the Gentile believers (see Rom. 2:17-24). Paul’s teaching in places such as 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; and Ephesians 2:15-16 confirm the principles underlying all of Romans 12: all have been leveled by sin, and any who have been redeemed have been so by God’s mercy. Therefore, anyone who would look upon another believer with contempt or conceit because of status or position in life has not grasped the enormous implications of having been redeemed solely by grace.12:17-21. Finally, Paul concludes the chapter with the most lengthy, and perhaps the most difficult to manifest, evidence of being a living sacrifice: loving when wronged. The clear command is, Do not repay anyone evil for evil—whether a fellow believer or an unbeliever outside the church. There are at least two reasons for not taking revenge into one’s own hand. First, it puts an individual, a part of the creation, in the place of judge over another part of creation. The second reason is that it could bring disrepute and harm to the cause of the gospel. Paul tells the Roman believers, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. That would include peace with believers and nonbelievers, those in the church and outside the church. Since it takes two to fight, if the believers do not seek revenge, there will be no long-lasting disruption of peace.The point of this last section is to do toward others what God has done toward us: forgive as we have been forgiven (Eph. 4:32). God loved us when we were enemies (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21). Though Israel is an enemy of the gospel still (Rom. 11:28), God loves her. And we are to love those who are our enemies. We are not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good.