17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,”[g] says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”[h]
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
God is so surprising! Our human nature and instinct can be so reactionary and so narrow-minded and self-serving that when Paul says, “Never pay back evil with more evil” – it sounds surprising! We live in a world that is “Eye for an Eye.” Our society is completely litigious. I have encountered many individuals that live by the mantra of, “I want what I want, when I want it, how I want it” and they step on a whole lot of people to get there. So in a society like the one we live in, think of how things would change if we left the pay-back up to God. See, when people do evil, they expect negative consequences. Think of how amazing it is to people when God’s grace is evident clearly and tangibly through Christians. Grace is truly when you deserve one negative/less desirable result, but instead, are extended a “pass.” People are more likely to believe that there is a merciful God when they witness His merciful people here on earth.
I really found the part of the passage where Paul says, “Leave the payback up to God” kind of funny. I remember when I was younger that I often got in trouble for parenting my siblings (in not a good way). My dad would always say, “Who is the parent, Emily?” And this is God’s way of saying, “Emily, I will handle this. Do what you are supposed to do and I will make sure that everything else is taken care of.”