Romans 12:13-21

Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:13-21

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending an Eagle Scout Court of Honor as two young men, including a member of my congregation, received their Eagle Scout badges. The culmination of years of faithful participation, a modicum of parental badgering, a bit of procrastination, and lots of hard work brought them to the point of joining a select group of men who have shared very similar journeys. The high point of the event for me was shared between watching the boys give a special pin to their mothers and witnessing all the Eagle Scouts in the room stand together.

He is such a Boy Scout!

There was a time when that felt much more like a compliment than it does today. Today, if anyone is so characterized, it almost feels like a put down. That is tragic.

To read the list of behaviors that Paul includes here in Romans 12 is to be reminded of the very virtues and actions that make for a great life, a hospitable community, and a refuge of safety in a broken world that is spinning out of control. Generosity, hospitality, compassion, and restraint are the glue that holds us together.

The foundation of Boy Scouts is much more than the adventure of camping in the rain, tying knots, and wearing a patch covered shirt. It is rooted in values like honesty, integrity, courage, faith, service, and leadership.

But, of course, there is a dark side. There always is. I quit scouting precisely at the point where – back in my day – fathers were required to attend events with their sons. I doubt that my parents gave much thought about one of the after affects of their divorce and my father’s disappearance would be the shame I would later feel to miss the fishing trip because I didn’t have a Dad to go with me. But I didn’t. I missed the trip and never went back. Thank God that scouting is so much more inclusive today.

Scouting continues to struggle with their definition of family and who is acceptable as leaders and role models. It is a struggle well worth waging. Because the values that they espouse are universal values, rooted in reality, not in the secret handshakes and time worn rituals and distinctive dress of a private club.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Let us pray: Lord, you made it very simple for us. You call us to love others as we love ourselves, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. From the smallest personal interactions to grand national policies, and everything in between, may we continue to learn and to practice what love looks like in real life. Thank you for all who model that for us, and for those who lead the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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