"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all." (Rom 12:17)
My question when I look at that verse is this: Then why are there so many rules in the Law of Moses that require the death penalty as punishment for a particular sin? Is it one of those cases where we see a different nature of God from the Old Testament to the New? ("The God of the Old Testament would repay evil for evil, but the God of the New Testament says not to.") As far as I know, that's never a valid distinction. So then how do we explain the severe payback given to so many crimes when the same God would say, "Repay no one evil for evil"?
The answer is a fairly simple distinction. God's law through Moses didn't repay evil or evil; It repaid justice for evil.
And that's a distinction that's important for us to know too. Because there are times when someone in the church does what is evil, and there must be punishment for it (cf. 1 Cor. 5). And it is plenty right for governments to wield their power to punish evildoers (cf. Rom. 13:1-6). But these things are about accomplishing what is objectively right—not just what feels right, and certainly not just about accomplishing personal vengeance of some kind.
That's the warning that Paul gave to the Roman Christians. It's not about vengeance or "personal justice." We, as the people of God, ought to be in pursuit of the same kind of objective truth, righteousness, and justice that defines God's good nature. That, in the grand scheme, is what will prove to be honorable in the sight of all.
- Dan Lankford, minister
You can't cheat consistency. Whether it's in developing a new skill, learning a language, getting stronger and fitter, or building a long-term meaningful relationship with someone; there are is not substitute for consistent training & routine practice.
The same is true of discipleship. You can't create spiritual strength, learn to skillfully handle the word of God, or develop a rich long-term relationship with him without some consistent habits. And there are two habits that rise to the top for their usefulness: Prayer and Bible reading.
I know that preachers seem to harp on these two spiritual disciplines a lot, and many believers become frustrated with the repetition of these simple admonitions. But there's a reason for the repeated encouragement: these habits work. And it is this author's belief that the reason why many believers become frustrated with it is because they are looking for a cheat—some way to circumvent the consistency that is required for these habits to really achieve their greatest effect. The complaint almost never comes from saints who already have consistent habits of prayer and Bible reading. In fact, they are typically all the more enthusiastic in encouraging others to take up these same routines, because their lives and their faith are a testament to the effectiveness of consistent reading and prayer.
So don't discount the power of these simple activities. Make a point of practicing them daily; consistently. And let God's Spirit do his work in you. God may use additional channels to give increase to your faith as well, but if you want to purposefully cultivate spiritual growth in yourself, remember: You can't cheat consistency.
- Dan Lankford, minister