Scripture Reading: Romans 12:18-21 (New International Version)

18  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

20  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thought for the day:

As we close out yet another week, there is no doubt that we could have spent many, many days discussing each and every verse of this wonderful passage of God’s Word. We have spent 3 weeks on this chapter but could have easily taken 3 months and still only scratched the surface of its depth and meaning for our lives. Before I conclude with just one phrase from our verses under consideration today, I want to take us back to verse 1. I’m more than aware that I didn’t really explain much about that verse and so I want to bring that back into focus today as a means of summarising the whole chapter. ‘Offer yourselves as sacrifices, living, holy and well-pleasing to God’. Each of the next 20 verses discusses exactly how we are to do what is asked of us. Firstly, we often think of a sacrifice as doing something that is not as good as something we would rather be doing instead. For example, when I want to watch a game of rugby but go shopping with my wife instead. I’m sacrificing the rugby for shopping. I’m giving up doing something that is pleasurable to me for the sake of someone or something else. While there is a measure of truth in that definition, I think that we are missing the bigger picture if we hold only to that explanation. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. He came to earth, leaving behind the glory He had with the Father before the foundation of the world and yet we read ‘who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross’. I’m sure He didn’t want to go to the cross, He didn’t want the pain or the agony, and yet He knew that without that sacrifice, none of us would have been reconciled or justified by faith. His sacrifice wasn’t about what He was leaving behind, it was about what was to come. We are called to offer our lives as sacrifices. ‘As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ There are circumstances where it is not possible to be at peace with people. God understands that. There are other circumstances where we may need to offer a sacrifice of peace. All of the sacrifices we are asked to make provide a better environment and they change us in the process.

Prayer and Application:

In all of the areas of sacrifice, my prayer is that we don’t think about what we’re missing out on, but instead are filled with the undeniable truth of what is to come as result of those sacrifices – we are becoming more like Jesus.