Heaping Helpings of Holy Hatred? Or Refusing Revenge for the Right Reasons?

November 16, 2011 at 10:47 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans | 4 Comments
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If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

It doesn’t always lie within us to be able to live peaceably with everyone around us. But it does always “lie with” God. There are some people who won’t let you live peaceably with them. The question is, when they fight against us, do we trust God enough not to fight back?

Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21

What do these “coals of fire” represent? Is the Holy Spirit encouraging us to pray for revenge? There are some Old Testament instances of such prayers. Samson’s prayer is one example:

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Judges 16:28

Sometimes we are tempted to substitute the expression “coals of fire” with the sentiment “fight fire with fire.” The emphasis in Romans 12:20-21 is not on refusing to fight evil with evil – that should be a given. God’s children should not hate other people. Instead, the emphasis is on not being overcome with evil. The admonition is against letting the evil – the hatred – get inside us.


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