Hey Trump Christians – these questions are for you. How do you feel, supporting a President that claims to be the best President ever for Christians, and yet acts the opposite of what Jesus told us to act? A few days ago, Trump said, “We are a very reciprocal nation with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.” In other words, we are a nation that repays evil with evil. Does that sound even remotely like something Jesus ever taught? Does it bother you that your chosen candidate says and does things like this? On top of that, consider the likelihood that you support Trump because of his claims about being so much in favor of Christians.
If you are unhappy with it, where is your voice? More and more, polls show that the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation. The fact that we have a leader who blatantly acts very un-Christian and yet claims to be so supportive of Christians tells us something. It tells us that the polls are right. We are more un-Christian as a nation. A nation of individuals. Individuals who seem to have lost sight of what Christianity is really about. Or maybe we’re just a nation of so-called Christians who look to the devil to promote our Christian religion?
That might sound a bit strong. Maybe very strong. And yet, when so many Christians – including Christian leaders – are so silent when their candidate of choice says and does things like this, is it really so strong? When Trump claims to be so pro-Christian, where is the push-back or the talk of the reality of what he really does being so anti-Christian? And it’s the same thing when he speaks like this. Where’s the push-back, asking how someone who claims to be so pro-Christian can say things like that? Isn’t accountability part of Christianity anymore?
Are we really talking about repaying evil with evil?
Actually, we are. Here’s what Trump said, as reported on msn.com:
President Donald Trump threatened undefined retaliation Friday against countries and organizations that issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence.
“If they did that, we’d just reciprocate,” Trump said during a wide-ranging impromptu gaggle with reporters at the White House, en route to fundraisers in New York.
He added: “We are a very reciprocal nation with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.”
So, this is about countries that are putting out travel warnings for their citizens who consider traveling to the U.S. Some countries are doing it because of all the mass shootings in this country. Clearly, Trump views those warnings as negative: When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country. It’s his own words.
Dictionary.com lists the following synonyms for the word negative: uncooperative, antagonistic, hostile. That certainly falls under the category of evil, when it comes to what we’ll be looking at below. We have to remember, evil has a wide range of connotations that range from uncooperative, antagonistic, hostile to purely demonic activity. The thing is, when the Bible says not to repay evil with evil, it means the entire range. We’ll see that as we go along.
Clearly, Trump views it acceptable to repay negative actions with negative actions. Whether we’re talking uncooperative, antagonistic or outright hostile – Trump is letting it be known that he’ll respond in kind. As I said, we’ll see below that the Bible says not to respond in kind when such actions are directed towards us. Don’t repay evil with evil.
Remember, we’re not talking about someone declaring war on us. We’re talking about travel advisories. Something we do to other countries all the time. But when the shoe is on the other foot, all of a sudden it’s a hostile / evil practice.
Trump Christians – how are you feeling so far? Still want to repay evil with evil?
Let’s keep going.
Did Jesus say not to repay evil with evil?
Technically, no, Jesus never literally said those words. However, that’s really not correct. It’s like the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. In the Old Testament, there were lots of “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” kinds of commands. However, in the New Testament, under the New Covenant, it was much more of a “do this” scenario. Then, by doing “this”, we automatically would refrain from doing the things that were against the Old Testament Law.
So in reality, Jesus did tell us not to repay evil with evil, even if it wasn’t in those four words. But He did tell us to do good. And to love, as God loves us. Let’s see how that plays out over the course of the Bible.
Payback – don’t repay evil with evil in Proverbs
The closest thing to a literal statement of don’t repay evil with evil comes in Proverbs. You know – the stuff written by Solomon. The wisest man who ever lived.
The first is:
Pr 20:22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
Then, two chapters later, Solomon writes:
Pr 24:29 Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me;
I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”
In classic Old Testament fashion, we read the “don’t do this” kind of statements.
The words here are even more tame than what we saw above. “Wrong” isn’t necessarily antagonistic or hostile. It’s just “wrong”. Not right. In both cases, the Bible says don’t pay back in kind. We’ll get more into that when we look at a passage from Romans below.
Of course, we could get into questioning whether or not the travel warnings were wrong. It’s worth checking out. After all, Solomon also wrote:
Pr 24:28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause,
or use your lips to deceive.
Are travel warnings regarding the U.S. “evil”?
It’s not that payback is justified if the travel warnings were made falsely. But a different type of response should probably be forthcoming, such as a statement to correct the falsehoods that were told about conditions in the U.S. But let’s see. Are travel warnings justified in this case?
Using a public database from the Crime Prevention Research Center showing International Mass Public Shootings, I put together the following table. It shows the top 20 countries, in terms of the number of people killed in mass public shootings, from 1998 to 2012. For the study, mass shootings means more than four people killed in a single incident.
As you can see in the table below, the United States is not number one on the list. It’s 13th. And, none of the top 10 countries had more than double the number of deaths from mass shootings. However, look at the countries above the U.S. Every one of them has serious problems – political, religious, drug-related, Etc. The same situation is true for the remainder of the countries in the top 20 list. Is that really something to be proud of? Is it legitimate to be upset that travel advisories are issued for people who want to visit the U.S.? Or is it yet another wake-up call that we have a serious problem here?
The numbers are staggering. But the list of countries in the top 20 makes those numbers, if possible, even worse. To make matters even worse, we need to remember that the numbers are from 1998 to 2012. Both the number of U.S. mass shooting incidents and the number of deaths from them have gone up greatly after 2012. If anything, if current numbers were available, we’d rank even higher.
World Mass Shootings - top 20 countries by deaths - 1998 to 2012
|Rank - by # People Killed||Country||# People Killed||# Mass Shooting Incidents||Rank - by # Incidents|
|10||Democratic Republic of the Congo||525||30||13|
Now, let’s look at the top 20 tourist destination countries in the world. After all, this is about travel warnings. Warnings issued by various countries to their citizens who are thinking of traveling to other countries. The U.S. is listed 2nd, but is actually pretty much tied with Spain for 2nd / 3rd spot. But look at the mass shooting rankings for the top 20 tourist destination countries. The U.S. is the only one in the top 20 list of people killed in mass shootings. Even Turkey, with all the unrest that’s been going on there, is 24th – 11 spots lower than the U.S. For all of Trump’s complaints about Mexico, it’s interesting to see that they rank 39th, in terms of mass shooting deaths. That’s 26 spots lower than the U.S.
If we look at the rankings by mass shooting incidents, things don’t change much. In fact, the U.S. is even higher – ranked 9th. It’s the only country in the top 10 list of mass shooting incidents that’s also in the top 20 list of tourist destination countries. That’s not good. Actually, that’s awful.
|Tourist Destination Rank||Country||# Visitors in 2019 (Millions)||Rank - Mass Shooting Deaths (91 countries - N/A means none)||Rank - Mass Shooting Incidents|
Bottom line – are travel warnings for people going to the U.S. out of line? Obviously, people will disagree. But remember, the secular and biblical definitions of “evil” that we’re using relates to things that are uncooperative, antagonistic, hostile. Biblically, it’s about things that are false. Now, some will consider those travel warnings to be uncooperative, antagonistic or hostile. But seriously, are they really uncooperative, antagonistic or hostile – or is it merely a case of sometimes the truth hurts?
Don’t forget, if you don’t like the travel warnings, you have to explain why being in the company of the other 19 countries on the top 20 lits of mass shooting deaths is a good thing. And why we aren’t closer to other countries that are in the top 20 tourist destination list. Especially the western European ones.
Don’t repay evil with evil – the New Testament
Regardless of how you answered those last few questions about the travel warnings, I urge you to proceed. Even if you think they were uncooperative, antagonistic or hostile, do you also think that it’s OK to respond in kind? Is that the Christian thing to do? We’ve already looked at some excerpts from the Old Testament. As I said, Jesus never literally spoke those same words. However, that doesn’t mean the intention isn’t there.
Don’t repay evil with evil – Peter
Remember Peter? The one who, among other things, cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant.
18:3-11 pp — Mt 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-50; Lk 22:47-53
Jn 18:1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.
Jn 18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jn 18:4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
Jn 18:5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Jn 18:7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jn 18:8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
Jn 18:10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
Jn 18:11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Arresting Jesus is something His disciples would have considered “evil”. So Peter did the kind of thing he often did – act first, think second. And he cut off the man’s ear.
But look what Jesus did. It’s not recorded by John, but here it is from Luke:
Lk 22:51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Not only did Jesus make it plain that He was against Peter’s action, but He healed the man as well.
Now, let’s go back to John. He records Jesus saying, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Jesus lets us know that what happened is for a reason. Repaying evil for evil isn’t the right thing to do. We could (wrongly) conclude Jesus was only speaking about this incident. Rather than do that, let’s keep going.
Don’t repay evil with evil – Peter – take 2
The next piece we’ll look at is after Peter has received the Holy Spirit. Remember, none of the disciples had yet received the Holy Spirit when the incident at Gethsemane occurred. But in the following case, they did. Look at the difference in Peter after that.
Suffering for Doing Good
1Pe 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
1Pe 3:11 He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
1Pe 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
For the Trump Christians, did you catch the very first part?
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult
Insult for insult is covered in a number of other articles, such as Say bad things about me and I’ll destroy you.
Don’t repay evil for evil – that’s today’s topic. It seems that Peter learned a lesson from the Gethsemane ear incident. Rather than repay evil for evil, Peter learned to turn from evil and do good. Did we, today’s Christians, learn from it?
So the question remains for the Trump Christians, even if you still think the travel warnings on the U.S. were in any sense “evil”, was Trump’s response Christian? He said, “We are a very reciprocal nation with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.” Again, isn’t that repaying evil with evil?
Don’t repay evil with evil – Paul
Paul wrote very much the same things in the famous Love passage in Romans.
Ro 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Ro 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Ro 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Ro 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Again – notice: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
Whether deserved or not, reciprocal actions are, by definition, evil when the original action was evil. And by both the secular and the biblical view of “evil” that Christians should be concerned with here, even Trump feels that the travel warnings fit that definition of evil. If not, then he wouldn’t say what he did about reciprocating. Another question – is this really the man Christians should be looking to as the supposedly best ever president for supporting Christians? Or should Christians be crying out about his un-Christian action?
Or at the very least, distancing themselves from the things he says and does? I’m not a Christian political activist. My concern is the company we keep and are silent about when it comes to our religion. Jesus spent lots of time with sinners. But He told them about God and the need to repent. Jesus didn’t join in with the sinners and do the things they did. He taught and corrected them. We should be correcting the incorrect impression of Christianity that this president is giving people. We should be correcting him. Or, as I said, if that fails we should be distancing ourselves from his support.
Don’t repay evil with evil – Jesus
So far, we haven’t heard from Jesus on the topic of don’t repay evil with evil. Like I said, Jesus never spoke those literal words. But here’s what He did say, in light of the New Covenant.
Love for Enemies
6:29, 30 pp — Mt 5:39-42
Lk 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Lk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Even from the very first sentence, we see nothing of Trump’s response in what Jesus said.
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
None of that happens when one bad act is reciprocated with another bad act. Where is the Christianity in Trump’s response? Where is the outcry from Christian supporters of the person who says and acts like this – and also says that he’s a great supporter of Christians? The two things cannot both be true.
Remember what Jesus said about being able to recognize a tree by its fruit?
Mt 12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”
Tell me – reciprocating one bad act with another bad act in return – is that good or bad fruit? It’s bad, if the person is Christian. And you know – I get it – not every political act in this fallen world is going to be Christian. But this man – today’s courting of him by Christian leaders – and his apparently blind support from Christians – it’s something I just don’t get. What does it say about us?
Don’t repay evil with evil – Jesus – take 2
Finally, earlier I pointed out the difference in Peter between the time when he didn’t yet have the Holy Spirit, versus after he did.
Here’s something Jesus said about the Holy Spirit. Something that really should have an impact on us as Christians. Something that should help us learn about not repaying evil with evil.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Jn 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
“Come now; let us leave.”
Yes, the Holy Spirit, who Paul called the Mind of Christ. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Don’t repay evil with evil – conclusion
If we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and remind us of everything Jesus said, we should have a very different view of the events I outlined above. That is, a very different view compared to someone who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. All mass shootings are a problem. More of them, that’s representative of an even larger problem.
I say that because we really shouldn’t compare ourselves with anyone. Christians shouldn’t do that, at least. But then, we’re not a Christian nation anymore, as the pools increasingly show. And we do make comparisons. And somehow, we seem to be able to justify things that should be wrong – and convince ourselves they’re actually not that bad, if not even outright good.
The thing is, when Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, his warnings included this:
Mt 10:16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
So in this article, I’m trying to be as shrewd as a snake. So I look at the comparisons. As a snake would. And I tell you, the conclusion that the U.S. isn’t a nation in trouble, big trouble, because of mass shootings is just plain snake oil. There’s no way we should be where we are. Even as a “non-Christian” nation, there are still enough people who claim to be Christian that there should be one very huge outcry over this.
To be sure, there is some. But most of it’s coming from the liberal side – not from the conservative Christian side. Why is that?
Do we, as Christians, really not have the Holy Spirit?
Or maybe we really aren’t even as Christian as we think?
Or are many of those who claim to be Christian not actually Christian at all?
For much more on that last thought, I invite you to read something. It’s especially for those who think Christianity is about saying a prayer, being “born again”, and you’re done. Jesus never said that. Far from it. Being born again is the beginning, not the end. Receiving the Holy Spirit is the beginning, not the end. To see that, please check out Grown-again Christian.
Then come back here, and see if you’re viewpoint changes.