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ŇHeap Coals of Fire on His HeadÓ —Romans 12:14-21
How do you deal with your enemies? I mean those people who oppose you, injure you, seek to harm you, and speak and do evil against you. Your enemies — Those people who hate you, hate your God, hate your gospel, and hate you because of the gospel you believe. How do you deal with them? How do you think of them? How do you treat them? More importantly, how should we deal with our enemies? Romans 12:14-21 tells us what God has to say about this.
In the first 13 verses of this chapter, the Apostle Paul tells us how we are to deal with our brethren, GodŐs people, his church. Giving our bodies as a living sacrifice to God means that we are to devote our lives to the service of GodŐs church, serving in every way we can the temporal and everlasting good of our brethren.
In verses 14-21, the Apostle tells us that giving our bodies as a living sacrifice to Christ means devoting our lives to the temporal and everlasting good of our enemies, too. In this part of the chapter, the Spirit of God teaches us, as much as possible, to treat our enemies as our brethren. — After all, some of them are!
ŇBless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.Ó — Our Savior fed the multitudes, healed their sick, and attended their weddings and, when invited, even went to their dinner parties, though he had nothing in common with them except humanity. He came to many who received him not, that he might come to some he would cause to receive him. He fed multitudes who wanted nothing but what he gave them to eat, that he might feed some with the bread of heaven. He healed many lepers who never believed him, that he might cause one to return to him with deep gratitude and worship him. He wept over multitudes who would not weep for themselves, that he might cause some to weep for him whom they had pierced. He prayed for those who crucified him. He died for many who were his tormenters and murderers.
Shall I do less? He died for me when I despised him. He prayed for me when I cursed him. He provided for me when I blasphemed him. He protected me when I had no regard for him. He redeemed me when I would not have him. He sought me when I refused to seek him. He called me when I was determined not to call upon him. Shall I do less for those who set themselves against me?
ŇIf thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.Ó — Paul is not undoing all that he has taught us here and all that he teaches about kindness, love, tenderness, and generosity throughout his epistles. He is not telling us to be nice to people because that will make hell hotter for them, as if such a cruel desire is commendable.
What, then, is Paul telling us? He takes his words in verse 20 directly from Proverbs 25, where the wise man Solomon, who was an eminent type of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, teaches us how to live as wise men and women in godliness. This doctrine is not from below, but from above! This is the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of GodŐs free grace, grace teaching us to live in true godliness. These coals of fire are not coals of judgment, but coals of grace, by which the hearts of our enemies are melted. Our Savior preached this doctrine in his Sermon on the Mount.
Nothing is more grueling to our flesh than the exercise of kindness and love toward those who hate us. But if we would honor our Savior and serve the souls of men, we must conquer the hearts of our enemies the same way that Christ conquered our hearts, by heaping the coals of mercy, grace, and love on their heads.