After a Hurt

In Romans 12:17-21 Paul’s counsel is to no one give back evil against evil. While explaining the qualities of genuine love, Paul echoed the words of Christ.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14

Isn’t it interesting that both Jesus and Paul instruct us to watch our speech? How we choose to respond verbally prepares us for our next decision. If we want to obey the command to avoid returning evil for evil, then we’ve got some work to do.

How do I live this way?

  • I must control my tongue
We must first begin by obeying the command to bless and not curse. That’s the first step in transforming our hurt into something constructive.

  • I must bless and not curse
Bless is to speak well of, it’s the same term we get our English word “eulogy” from. We are to eulogize the person who has offended us. However, we can’t wait until we feel like it; we must choose to deliberately, which is contrary to our nature.

  • I must respect what is right
We are to look past the offense to see what good we can do, so that our actions aren’t mere reactions.

Paul is a realist. He understands, perhaps better than anyone, that some people are determined to be our enemy regardless of how we choose to behave. Some folks simply live to fight and wouldn’t know what to do without someone to harass.


1. I reflect Christ when I’ve been hurt by letting it go unanswered (v. 20)
Why? We are to “leave room for the wrath of God” (v. 19). The wrath of God is always redemptive, never retaliatory, or spiteful. The wrath of God during this age of grace pursues the sinner, cuts off their escape, and confronts them with the consequences of sin.

Why? To allow God to work in bringing them to repentance. To give them grace, to redeem our enemy as He has redeemed you. When we take our own revenge, we dare to stand between God and His beloved whom He will pursue.

2. I reflect Christ when I’ve been hurt by demonstrating Christian hospitality.
Paul isn’t saying this to prohibit protecting one’s country or preserving one’s life or family from an abuser. Rather, this is about heated arguments, crazy lawsuits, etc. There’s a fine line between protection and retaliation.

Why? To allow God to humble the offending party. The purpose of kindness is to allow the conscience of the enemy to do its job.

3. I reflect Christ when I’ve been hurt by becoming an active participant in God’s plan of redemption
God’s ultimate purpose is to reclaim His creation from the control of evil, supernaturally transform it and bring it back under control of His righteousness. In other words, He will overcome the world’s evil with His good.
By returning good for evil, we do as God does and live on purpose and for the great purpose we were created. Let’s be honest though, forgiving an offense is much easier when the guilty person is contrite and has sincerely apologized.

It’s a faith question. Do you really believe that God is in control and that He will preserve you through danger, including enemy attacks? How you answer will determine whether cursing or blessing falls from our lips.


If anyone understood the pain of personal offense, it was Paul. Paul’s command in 12:17, never pay back evil for evil, came at great personal sacrifice. But what do I do to begin healing?

  • I can heal my hurt by refusing to obey your natural reactions
All of us have natural instincts that are programmed for survival. When something comes close to our face, we flinch. Paul calls us to respond supernaturally.

  • I can heal my hurt by refusing to seek my own justice
Justice honors God but Paul calls us to surrender our desire for justice and to seek blessing for the offender instead.

  • I can heal my hurt by surrendering the matter to God
Each person has an unavoidable appointment with death at which point they will stand before God and be judged. Paul calls us to allow God to be the judge of souls, to dispense justice or give mercy according to His wisdom.

Vengeance cannot heal wounds, only grace can do that. Choose grace.
Pastor Chris Williams
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