“Never hold a grudge or try to get even, but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others. Do your best to live as everybody’s friend. Beloved, don’t be obsessed with taking revenge, but leave that to God’s righteous justice. For the Scriptures say: ‘If you don’t take justice in your own hands, I will release justice for you,’ says the Lord. And: If your enemy is hungry, buy him lunch! Win him over with kindness. For your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience, and God will reward you with favor. Never let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21 TPT)
When I was just a kid, my parents and grandparents had coal stoves in their houses, as did pretty much everyone else in our little Appalachian neighborhood. I can remember many times watching one of the adults empty the ashes or bank a fire; so that Scripture brings back memories of my childhood and the dangers of having to dispose of those hot ashes. To this day, I still have a healthy respect for fire. Yesterday while getting dressed, I was listening to an audio version of the Passion Translation. Romans is my favorite book in the Bible, and I’m very familiar with how the King James reads; so when the narrator came to the “heaping coals of fire” passage, my heart leaped. I had to stop what I was doing and actually look at this again in print (as listed above).
Romans 12 explains how we are to handle our enemies—being kind; meeting a need they have; literally feeding them if they’re hungry. The vengeful person, who fancies this idea of an ash shovel full of glowing coals getting dumped on the head of someone he or she doesn’t like, might be a little disappointed that the Lord isn’t trying to burn those people who are not treating us as we wish. What He is aiming for is a softening of two hearts—ours toward them and theirs toward us! Who’da thunk it! We just happen to be the one He is calling on to make the first move. And how? Through kindness and goodwill and giving.
You might say, “Well that’s just the problem; I’m always on the giving end.” Truly, I don’t know each of your situations, and it would be overwhelming if I knew everyone else’s problems in detail. But I do know that there is a difference when we go into something prayerfully and strategically. Obedience pleases the Lord. And the Word says that when a person’s ways please the Lord, He will cause even that person’s enemies to be at peace with him/her!
Father, we have at any given time opportunities to have conflict with other people. It’s becoming a crazy last days world where the love of many is growing cold, just as Jesus said it would. Help us not to grow cold in our love and patience and long suffering toward others.
We commit today to You, and ask that You make us mindful of not just the drama and conflict; but also how to build a bridge of peace. Help us genuinely empathize with those we don’t get along with. Help us to have eyes to see chances to do kindnesses toward them that awaken their conscience. Lord, we don’t want to be used and taken advantage of and taken for granted, but because of the wisdom of Your Word, we extend kindness today toward even these who have gotten on our last nerve!
As an act of obedience to You, we will sow what our flesh doesn’t want to sow into someone who has wronged us. Lord it goes plumb against the grain of our carnal nature—but we are sowing with a harvest in mind! Today we deliberately release Your Holy Spirit to go to work in us. Change how we feel toward them, and change how they feel toward us! You have permission to begin the work on our side. Use our kindness to awaken their conscience. Open doors of favor that were once dead bolted against us, for Your Word even says that You will reward us when we do these things! May we represent You well today, and may we remain patient while You go to work in the seeds we have sown! We release forgiveness and blessing into the lives of those who have hurt us and mistreated us, and we do it in Jesus’ name!
(I actually wrote most of this and posted on Facebook in January 2019 but just now got around to editing and sharing it on here!)