The Greatest Teacher

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NLT)

“Don’t get mad, get even.” Ever heard that? It’s an interesting piece of advice that encourages you to do something of equal or greater damage to someone who has hurt you. Let’s be honest: It’s terrible advice. This expression screams “never-ending feud.” It invites escalation of devastation. 

A sounder piece of advice for someone who has been wronged is the equally well-known, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” 

So, if we’re not getting even or exacting revenge, what should we be doing? In today’s verse the apostle Paul says, “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”

Right about now, you may be thinking, What? Someone did something terrible to me and you expect me to repay them with kindness? How is that fair?

I know how it feels to want to see someone get what they deserve, to get even. In fact, I have felt this way a lot recently. But here’s the thing, that’s not how God thinks. If it were, there would be no salvation for any of us, because we deserve death (Romans 6:23); we deserve hell (Matthew 25:46). We can never be EVEN with Him. But the Lord “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV). God is merciful and longsuffering—He repaid our sinfulness with grace and love, and He calls us to do the same! 

So, my fellow Christ-followers, “Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone . . . Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 16–18 NLT). 

This is what it looks like to do good to each other and to all people. Paul encourages us to treat others how we want to be treated; to represent Christ well in our interactions with people. When someone wrongs you, don’t repay wrong for wrong, instead, “do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:39 NLT).
DIG: Read 1 Thessalonians 5, Romans 6, and 2 Peter 3.

DISCOVER: Why is our first impulse to repay evil for evil, to get even? What does this solve for us? What does this invite upon us?

DISPLAY: As you encounter people today . . . kind people, rude people, fake people, courteous people, mean people, people who look, act, sound, and think differently than you, people who have hurt you . . . remember these words from today’s verse: “Always try to do good to each other and to all people.” Carry them with you and put them into practice. 

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.