Romans 12:17-21 – “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” NKJV
I’m sure that many of you have found it difficult to forgive some people for some things they have done or perceived to have done. I’ve had people tell me, “Well, I forgive them but I will never have anything to do with them, to me they are dead.” I suspect there may be, at a minimum, a tiny bit of unforgiveness left in that statement and I suggest that it would be well to ask the Holy Spirit to examine the heart because we do not want to harbor unforgiveness toward anyone. Here in Romans 12, the apostle Paul is giving godly counsel and direction for us in our interpersonal relations. God’s way is not always easy but it is always right. God’s way is not always easy but it is always rewarding.
The first thing he says is to AVOID vengeance, “repay, no one evil for evil.” We are not under the Old Testament principle of “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.” We are under Grace where we FORGIVE and release the offender into the hands of God for His judgment and retribution. We are focused on redemption, not punishment. He says, “Have regard for good things in the sight of men.” Simply, remember and stay keenly aware that you are being watched and your actions reflect on the Gospel message and the God of the Message. You are an epistle known and read of men, therefore you need to determine that your walk, word, and attitude will embrace goodness and godliness so that you are without reproach. Yes, they hurt you and they were wrong BUT it is not yours to exact a pound of flesh. They are creations of God and He loves them and desires to bring them into the fold and transform their lives so determine that you are going to FORGIVE and PRAY for their eternal souls.
He says something that may be missed or misunderstood, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” First, it is possible in Christ, but in the natural, there are two sides of the equation and two people involved. That person may harbor such resentment and hatred toward you that they will not allow peace to exist. It may not be possible to live in peace with them. However, you must never seek to avenge yourself and allow anger, wrath, hate, bitterness, wounds to fester in your heart you are to COMMIT THEM TO THE LORD. It may be that you need to find a prayer place and place them on the altar before God and once you placed them on the altar LEAVE THEM THERE. When you hear a new complaint, a new allegation, and a new arrow of hurt is launched toward you hold to the declaration of God, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay…” This is not an easy task but a necessary one.
Here’s what you do and this will be impossible without the help and anointing of the Holy Spirit:
- If your Enemy is Hungry – FEED HIM.
- If your Enemy is Thirsty – GIVE HIM A DRINK.
The next part of the verse has inspired some wrongly, “for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” I’ve had people tell me, “Well, I’m heaping coals of fire on their head and they are being burned.” The glee in their voices was disturbing and I could sense the imagery of that person being tied to a stake and this person dumping burning coals on their head tormenting them. That is not what this is referring to. Yes, they may be tormented in their spirit but it is the CONVICTION of the Holy Spirit that is working on their lives and those “coals of fire” are designed to purge out the dross not render punishment. Never allow the thirst for vengeance to motivate you for if you do you not only enslave them but yourself as well. You can FORGIVE if you keep in mind FORGIVENESS. Never forget the forgiveness you have received.
God, bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus!