Love In Action - Romans 12:20-21

Today, our 10-week “Love in Action Series draws to a close, but not without some strong parting words. This week’s passage is a continuation of Paul’s instruction not to repay evil for evil and not to take revenge but to leave room for God’s justice. What Paul says we are to do as we wait may come as a surprise. “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.”

Offering food and drink is a relatable directive to me as a Texas girl who is well-versed in the arts of Southern hospitality. A lot of disagreements can be diffused by some goodwill and refreshment--especially if the root of the frustration was hanger!

In a way, it helps the heart of the offended person when they humble themself and take on the role of a servant, offering food or drink. It’s hard to stay focused on our own bruised ego when we are seeing to the needs of someone else and are reminded of their humanness. Likewise, for the one on the receiving end of hospitality, it’s hard to stay mad at someone bearing a peace offering of warm cookies or iced tea.

There is much speculation over Paul’s cryptic phrasing, “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Some say his meaning is that your enemy will burn with discomfort, embarrassment, or shame when you show him kindness instead of the retaliation he was expecting.

Others point to scriptures about burning coals and refiner’s fire being used to purify sin or take away impurities. The bottom line is that we don’t have to understand what’s happening with the burning coals in order for us to follow Paul’s directions to show kindness to those who hurt us.

The final words of this section of scripture seem to sum up our series perfectly. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In this seemingly simple appeal, Paul issues a challenge infused with hope. We are sometimes prone to focus on all the bad in this world, but we mustn’t let it overcome us. Instead, we are to overcome it with goodness, remembering the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!”

We are not equipped to overcome evil on our own, but we have a Savior who has already done it! When we focus on imitating the light of Christ in this dark world, we are practicing love in action!


PS - Want to keep this verse with you all week long? Just take a screenshot of the image (or download it) to use as your lock screen!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.