The title of the message is "Four ways of responding." It's about how we should respond to the people in our lives--no matter if they're kind or not. He began the sermon by saying,
How many of you get "bugged" by people?
Of course, the answer is "yes, we've all been bugged by people." But then I thought that perhaps I probably have "bugged" people myself! He read Romans 12:9,10,14,17-21, then gave us these points to remember and apply to our lives:
There are four ways of responding.
1. Good for good
Matthew 5:46 says, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" It's easy to be good to those who are good to us. When one writes a kind note to us, it's easy to be kind back to them. This type of response is dependent on someone else to be the initiator of goodness. They have controlled you; you respond back.
2. Evil for good
Matthew 26:7-13 speaks of the woman who brought the alabaster box filled with oil. Your words and actions are done with good intent, but it is repaid with evil. If you are the one repaying evil, it is nothing commendable. There's a desire to control or condemn the other person. Many times the person who repays with evil has bitterness in their heart.
3. Evil for evil
"Give no man back evil for evil." This is what we do a lot! We paint a picture of someone's evil to excuse our own. We build a support group to get people on our side. We gossip about the situation. We're controlled by this response, too.
4. Good for evil
Matthew 5:38-39 says, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." We must bless those who curse us. The question given to us as a congregation was, "Who's the person you love the most besides Jesus?" In my mind, I thought, "well, of course it's my husband." Then he said, "Who's the hardest to love?" The answer to that, is probably "family." It's hard to truly love and get along with the people in our families at times, isn't it? But, it can be done with the Lord's help. This response is the best one. It is supernatural and it is dependent upon God. It shows that you are controlled by the Spirit.
Then Pastor asked another question that hit close to home--"Has someone held a grudge against you and you didn't even know it?" This has happened countless times to me by one of my family members. True, there have been times that I was in the wrong, but most of the time, my intent was good--or I was just sharing my heart, and things got twisted around. I then find out months later that this person held a grudge against me. This person justifies their anger and all along they are more affected by it than I was. This person has continued to have an unforgiving and bitter spirit. They have failed to look at themselves and continue to justify their "harsh" words to try to change me. God is the one that does the changing. This is the response that I've been working on. I truly want to have the type of love that Christ wants me to have to those who have treated me wrong. It's a hard thing to do, but by God's grace we can do it!
Finally, Pastor asked, "What happens when we pay good for evil?
1. We disarm the opposition. Romans 12:14 says, "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not." To bless means to "speak well of." It's best to bless that person and leave it at that. Sometimes, we can continue talking, and by doing so, "add more fuel to the fire." I've been there--have you?
2. We rise above retaliation. Romans 12:19 says, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
3. It prepares the way for ministry. Romans 12:20 says, "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."
4. We are protected by being overcome. Romans 12:21 says, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
I hope these key points to my Pastor's message are an encouragement to your heart like they are to mine. Let's remember to respond to others with love, forgiveness and seek to be at peace with all men.