Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
How About Some Burning Coals?
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”(Romans 12:17-21). My sister recently asked my advice on how someone should respond to the unkind words and actions of another. This is an important question, especially if one desires to glorify God above all else. It is natural to want to respond to mistreatment with resentment, anger, and revenge but Jesus calls Christians to a supernatural response. Now I know what some of you are thinking. “But you don’t know what they did to me!” You are right, I don’t. But God does. In fact, He’s taking meticulous notes. Therefore, when dealing with difficult and downright evil people, it is imperative that we allow the Bible to inform our response. We may think that this is impossible or unreasonable. And I suppose apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit it is. But remember, as Christians we have the Holy Spirit of God living on the inside of us. Peter tells us we have “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4), meaning that as believers, we share in the life of God by means of Christ and the Holy Spirit living in us. Therefore, what is impossible for those outside of Christ is quite possible for us. Not only that, God expects it of us. And if we love God and are concerned with His glory we will submit to that which He expects.
What does God expect? He expects us to “overcome evil with good.” But how, you ask. We must resolve to “never pay back evil for evil to anyone.” This recalls Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:43-45: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father who is in heaven.” Paul goes on to say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Sometimes it simply isn’t possible. If the offending party doesn’t want peace then it simply isn’t possible to be at peace. But it is possible to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This does not refer to a fondness or affection for them. It means we are to show them goodwill. We are to refuse to hold any grudges or ill-will against them. Loving your enemies is simply making the godly choice or decision to do good. Furthermore, doing good means we are to "do good to those who hate us" (Luke 6:27). We are not only to have no bitterness towards them but also to make every effort to do them good. Also, we are to do good by speaking well of the very people who speak evil of us. As Jesus put it we are to "bless those who curse you" (Luke 6:28). We are not to defend ourselves from their wicked words. We are not to reciprocate, seek revenge or even be silent. Rather we are to respond to their evil words with kind words and “leave room for the wrath of God.” In so doing,” the Bible says, “you will heap burning coals [upon their head].” This most likely refers to a “burning conviction” that our kindness places on our enemy. All of this is one huge act of faith for the believer. When we do good to our enemies we in essence show them mercy. And believe me, unless they repent and obey the Gospel, it’s all the mercy they’re going to get! Our prayer should be that our showing mercy rather than returning evil for evil will result in our enemies coming under such conviction that they repent and believe the Gospel.
The Bible reminds believers, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). It is here that believers will be judged for the purpose of rewards. One way to insure rewards it to patiently endure the unkind words and actions of others by doing good to them. Friend, go for rewards! In so doing, you will honor Christ while shaming those who do evil. “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you… but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:14, 16).
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You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
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