Leave Room for God
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God (v.19).
A TV commercial begins with a boy sitting in a play tree house, taunting a grandma and a baby because he has the family’s bag of Doritos chips, and they don’t. The grandma and the baby conspire to get their share. Cooperating with one another, the grandma slingshots the baby to grab the Doritos. It’s a funny illustration of what’s inside all of our hearts—the desire for justice. Unfortunately, our desire for justice is often illegitimate and mixed with revenge, anger, pride, and very little room for God to work.
Though Paul had been wrongfully wounded, he taught and encouraged the Roman Christians to leave room for God to avenge the wrongs done to them. These believers may have wanted to repay evil for evil, but Paul called them to a higher standard: Leave justice in God’s hands (Romans 12:19). If they did, they would not only give God room to avenge the wrongs against them, but they would also avoid harmful retaliations.
Every opportunity for personal justice becomes an opportunity for God to be just (v.14). Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, Paul wanted them to trust that God is just and He would, in His time and in His wisdom, mete out justice (Romans 12:19). Taking it a step further, Paul encouraged these believers not only to abstain from repaying evil for evil but to bless their enemies by compassionately meeting their needs (vv.17,20).
God is just, and He demonstrates His justice in His demands for social equity, His defense of the oppressed, His vindication of the righteous, and— ultimately—in the death, resurrection, and eventual return of Jesus.
Instead of repaying evil for evil, let’s do good to our enemies and leave room for the justice of God (v.21).
Read Psalms 96:10. Why is the earth rejoicing, the sea roaring, the field exulting, and the forest singing with joy?
Why is it wrong for you to repay evil for evil? When should you fight for justice in our world, and when should you leave justice in the hands of the authorities and God?