“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.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20).
One of the first knee-jerk responses to being wronged is a desire to take revenge. When someone attacks us, either physically or emotionally, the human urge is to settle the score, to redeem our reputation, or to literally throw a punch. By contrast, God admonishes us to take a different approach.
Rather than strike back, we are told to stand down and allow the Lord to handle the situation. Why would God command us to respond in this way? The answer is right there in Romans 12, plain as day. In a military context, to stand down is to stop the action and allow a rapidly escalating situation to cool down. Taking a confrontive approach only fuels an already volatile situation, sometimes to a point that causes irreparable harm.
One of the most famous examples of interpersonal relations gone wrong is a feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. What began as bickering escalated to murder and continued for some 30 years until so many lives were lost that the U. S. Supreme Court became involved. To this day, there is still uncertainty about how the feud even began.
There are great lessons to be learned from the Hatfields and McCoys about the way we respond to wrongdoings. If we repay evil for evil, we not only damage our reputation, we prolong the downward spiral of destruction. As Christians, we dishonor our Heavenly Father. But when we repay evil with good, we display the same kind of compassion that was shown to us by our Lord Jesus. That’s enough reason to bite your tongue and unclench your fist.
When Christ sacrificed his life for us as the sinless Lamb of God, he did what none other could do: He offered salvation to everyone who would put their faith in Him. Our job as believers is to act in a way that draws others to the same saving grace of God. It’s akin to helping a lost soul find safe passage out of a burning inferno.
Speaking of burning, those coals mentioned in Romans are about humility. It’s a necessary part of the saving grace that Christ offers: acknowledging that he is God and we are not, that we are powerless on our own to save ourselves from the wrath of God. So the next time you find yourself confronted with any kind of evil, stand down and call out to Jesus. He’s got this.
Romans 12:20 plays a pivotal role in Stormy Encounters, my teen/YA fiction book scheduled to release March 14, 2023. It’s the kind of message parents and grandparents want younger generations to read. Watch for it on Amazon.