Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
Back during the depression my father worked in a bank. One of his memories was that the tellers at the bank he worked at were not trained to spot counterfeits by looking at examples of counterfeit currency. The focus was upon learning what the genuine bills looked like. They became so familiar with the real that when they were flipping through the bills, a variant would stand out no matter how small or subtle the difference was.
Taking a look at today’s verse, consider evil and wrong (the opposite of right) as counterfeits. We can spend our time focusing on what not to do, but that raises the question of how do we know whether an action or attitude is evil or wrong. It makes a whole lot more sense to focus on learning what is right.
What is the right way to respond when evil is done to us or those we love? How do we determine what is right when in the midst of turbulent circumstances? Let’s consider another illustration that we can relate to. Why do pilots get trained and licensed to fly on instruments? The reality of flying is that all manner of weather is encountered. We’ve all heard the stories of pilots in flight simulators who fly them ‘into the ground’ because they lose their bearings. Their instincts are telling them they’re doing fine, but the instruments indicate they are headed for disaster. Pilots must trust their instruments when they are flying in adverse conditions.
These two illustrations present a unique picture for us. God’s Word is the ultimate and absolute source of defining what is right. It contains the principles and instructions that provide the basis for recognizing what is right in every situation. The Holy Spirit in essence becomes our ‘instrument panel’. He communicates to us the insights and understandings needed to safely navigate every situation – no matter how difficult or confusing. We learn His voice. He brings to mind appropriate understandings of God’s word that apply to the situations at hand. We learn to trust Him, not our instincts, public opinion or what seems right. We look to Him. It doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes, but by doing this we become increasingly aware of our dependence upon God. The more we look to Him and live out His ways, the more right choices we will make.