Living to please God gives us the good pleasure of goodness plus meaning, purpose and fulfillment in the work of faith. And we get to live in the environment created by our brothers and sisters in Messiah Jesus in that being and doing.
Paul tells us how to go about that in Romans 12
1 I plead with you therefore, brethren (brothers and sisters), by the compassions of God, to present all your faculties to Him as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to Him. This with you will be an act of reasonable worship.
2 And do not follow the customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what God’s will is—that will which is good and beautiful and perfect.
3 For through the authority graciously given to me I warn every individual among you not to value himself unduly, but to cultivate sobriety of judgement in accordance with the amount of faith which God has allotted to each one.
4 For just as there are in the one human body many parts, and these parts have not all the same function; 5 so collectively we form one body in Christ, while individually we are linked to one another as its members.
If you can do it, do it
- 6 But since we have special gifts which differ in accordance with the diversified work graciously entrusted to us,
- if it is prophecy, let the prophet speak in exact proportion to his faith;
- 7 if it is the gift of administration, let the administrator exercise a sound judgement in his duties.
- 8 The teacher must do the same in his teaching;
- and he who exhorts others, in his exhortation.
- He who gives should be liberal;
- he who is in authority should be energetic and alert;
- and he who succours the afflicted should do it cheerfully.
What God’s will is—that will which is good and beautiful and perfect
- 9 Let your love be perfectly sincere.
- Regard with horror what is evil;
- cling to what is right.
- 10 As for brotherly love, be affectionate to one another;
- in matters of worldly honour, yield to one another.
- 11 Do not be indolent when zeal is required.
- Be thoroughly warm-hearted, the Lord’s own servants,
- 12 full of joyful hope,
- patient under persecution,
- earnest and persistent in prayer.
- 13 Relieve the necessities of God’s people;
- always practise hospitality.
- 14 Invoke blessings on your persecutors—blessings, not curses.
- 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice;
- weep with those who weep.
- 16 Have full sympathy with one another.
- Do not give your mind to high things, but let humble ways content you.
- Do not be wise in your own conceits.
- 17 Pay back to no man evil for evil.
- Take thought for what is right and seemly in every one’s esteem.
- 18 If you can, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all the world.
- 19 Do not be revengeful, my dear friends, but give way before anger; for it is written, “`Revenge belongs to Me: I will pay back,’ says the Lord.” 20 On the contrary, therefore, if your enemy is hungry, give him food; if he is thirsty, quench his thirst. For by doing this you will be heaping burning coals upon his head.
- 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome the evil with goodness. Romans 12 WNT
I like how Kretzmann explains how overcoming evil with goodness works.
The fiery coals fitly represent the uneasiness of conscience which is bound to follow in the case of kindness shown under the circumstances assumed in the context. Instead of taking advantage of his enemy’s misfortune, no matter what form it may take, the Christian takes the opportunity to show him every kindness. And this repaying good for evil in most cases will so deeply affect his enemy that he will be gained, or, at least, that his heart must acknowledge his own inferiority in the face of such treatment. And so the apostle concludes: Be not conquered by the evil that thy enemy may show thee, do not let this incite thee to thoughts of enmity and revenge under any circumstances; rather conquer the evil by doing good. Subdue your enemies by kindness, not by meanness. For doing good is the sphere in which we believers should move at all times, and this must exert its influence in the case of our enemies. Many a bitter enemy has been overcome by Christian magnanimity and has become the friend of the Christian cause.