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19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord. 20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. 21 Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good. Romans 12 : 19 – 21 AMPC
The scripture tells us never to try to repay a wrong done to us. But rather to leave the way open for God’s wrath. That means when we try to take revenge, we decide to take matters into our own hands instead of leaving it to God. We decide to intervene instead of trusting God to bring justice to our situation. We stand in the way of God acting as Righteous Judge. We essentially decide that in our sinful, flawed, human-ness, we would somehow be better at exacting justice than the Almighty and Holy God. So when we forgive, we step out of the way so that God can mete out punishment or mercy as He sees fit.
Most of us will never know when someone who has wronged us is hungry or thirsty. But the spirit of the scripture is saying this: whenever you have the opportunity, go out of your way to be good to those who hurt you. Show them kindness. Meet a need, if possible. Be full of mercy and grace. But God doesn’t tell us to be this way to no end. The scripture says when we show kindness to our enemies, it heaps fiery coals on their heads. Imagine how that would actually feel. Hot coals being piled on your head with every kind act from the person you wronged. When we show kindness to those who hurt us – to those undeserving of it – it leaves them wondering. Possibly even searching for the reason behind your undeserved kindness. Perhaps this wondering might begin a search that leads to a life of following Jesus. They just might come face to face with the One who showed us grace. And find that His grace is sufficient for them as well. That would never be so if we repaid evil for evil… If we did exactly what they expected and treated them badly in light of the wrong they did to us. When we obey and honor God by showing unmerited grace and kindness to our enemies. This allows God to vindicate us and frees us from the shackles of unforgiveness.
If we decide to go our own way and seek justice on our own, we’ve lost a bigger battle than we realize. We allow ourselves to be overcome or mastered by evil. We allow our thoughts to be consumed with revenge. Our hearts to be shrouded in dark intentions. The only way to combat evil is with good. We overcome the evil motives of our flesh with good. By focusing on the amazing grace we were shown, we are moved to show grace and kindness. Forgiveness, showing kindness to our enemies… Our obedience in these areas shows our submission to God. Then we are equipped to resist the temptation to seek vengeance and send the enemy running! Darkness cannot thrive in light.
Love & Blessings,