Today I am going to post about a section of verses I was reading recently:
"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." ~Romans 12:17-21
The main part I am going to be writing about is verses 19-20, but the other verses are just to give a little context.
When I read verse 20, it sounded kind of evil to me. What about you? It almost sounds like it's saying this: serve your enemy because when you do that, you hurt him back.
Aren't we supposed to love others and forgive them and want the best for them? In the next verse, 21, it even says, 'Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.' (And I'll say that this is a tough topic right now because we are still learning how to love and forgive--it doesn't exactly come easy when you've been hurt bad).
So what does this mean? That we are supposed to serve those who have hurt us so that we can hurt them back?
No, not exactly. First of all, verse 19 says that God alone is the one who has the right to judge and bring punishment on someone. We don't have that right because we ourselves are guilty. Besides, we can't know the heart of man. Only God can see his true intent.
So, since we have no right to judge a person and prescribe his punishment, and we ourselves are guilty, since we ourselves, as believers in Jesus Christ, have been forgiven so great a debt, we are commanded to forgive the debt that others are indebted to us. We are to have grace. We are to show love. This is what Christ did for us, right? Through His death on the cross, He forgave our enormous debt that we owe Him, He gave and still gives us grace, and He shows us the deep, deep, unconditional love He has for us--unconditional-despite the circumstances. Despite what we say or do.
One way of showing our enemies love and grace is by serving them, and when we do this, we heap coals of fire on their head. Now what does that mean? That is the part that sounds evil. But here's the difference: If we are serving our enemy just to heap coals of fire upon his head, that isn't right. We are doing it with evil intent, to bring hurt upon the person that hurt us. We are repaying evil for evil. We are just as guilty as he is.
What I gather this verse to be saying, is that you heap coals of fire on his head because you are in the right, and he is in the wrong. You have made the right choice--and again, it doesn't come easy, naturally or right away, sometimes it can take a really long time--but you have made the right choice to forgive and love. By serving a person, you show that you love them. Godly love is unconditional, and when we love with Christ's love, we bring Him great honor and glory. Hurt is a great test of love. So when we serve a person that has hurt us, in a small or large way, we are telling them that even though they hurt us, we still love them because Christ has first loved us.
When we serve a person with this attitude--not an attitude of vengeance or evil intent--we are clean and pure. Whereas they are not. Unless they choose to repent, they are in the wrong. They have no reason or right to stay in the evil state that they are in and therefore, coals of fire are being heaped on their head because, despite the display of God's love that is shown them, they still choose to stay hard-hearted. And in the end, that will get them. Each person is accountable for his or her actions, and nothing goes unnoticed by God. When you think about it, it's kind of pride. They are choosing to not acknowledge that they are wrong. When you serve a person, and give a clear display of God's love, a person has no excuse to remain hard-hearted. Their sin is exposed and mercy and grace is being shown them, but they choose not to accept it.
In summary: What I have understood Romans 12:19-20 to mean is that we are supposed to serve our enemies, in other words those who have brought harm to or have evil intent against us, but we are not to serve them with the intent of bringing judgement and harm upon them, rather to do what is right and pleasing in the eyes of God and in doing that, if the said enemy makes no move to repent or soften his heart, he will eventually be punished by the great and Righteous Judge. The hurt that was caused you will be avenged, but by God.
What do you think about this? When you read these verses, did it come across to you as serving with 'evil intent'?
By the pictures, can you tell where we went recently? :) Take a guess in the comments!
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ~1 John 1:9