Romans 12:9-21

Behave Like a Christian

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Deuteronomy 32:35) 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

As those who have been redeemed by God, we need to act like we’ve been redeemed. The world looks to us as an example of Christ whom we confess to follow. Sure we’re saved from our sins but that doesn’t make it any easier for us. We’re not bound to them anymore but our habits and struggles will continue to plague us. That’s what Jesus meant when He said that we need to take up our cross and follow Him (Mark 10:21). He will make it possible for us to overcome those struggles but we still need to take it up, whatever it is – pornography addiction, lies, theft, drug or alcohol addiction/abuse, foul language, sex outside of marriage (fornication), etc. and we need to trust in God that He will help us through it. The Gospel of God through Jesus Christ has been damaged the most by people who claim to be true converts to Christianity but who still walk in their old lifestyle of sin. Strip clubs, drinking all night, cheating on their wives – then slipping back into to church on Sunday and saying a quick “prayer” for forgiveness and right back out to do it all over again the next day. These are hypocrites and pretenders who put on a fascade of holiness for whatever reason and assume that God will forgive their actions. This is nothing more than what the Israelites were doing when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem with them. They have a zeal for God but not according to the truth and because they are unwilling to circumcise their hearts and separate themselves from their sins they will be rejected on the day of judgment. They are the tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43); the goats among the sheep (Matthew 25:31-34). We need to hate things that are evil – those things that are not from God and are against Him and the Gospel, as we need to hold tight to the things that are good according to God’s standard, not our own. We need to give preference to other Christians so as we can help to build each other up and not tear one another down. We need to keep our focus on Christ and remember that we’re not all at the same point in our walk. Some will be much farther along than we are and those who have been through what we’re working through should help us by helping us to see what we’re having trouble with and point us in the right direction. We should also look for those in the body of believers who are having trouble with things that we’ve conquered through the help of the Holy Spirit. For those who persecute us we need to stop from lashing out in anger and instead treat them as we would any of our other friends. We’ll often learn more about them than we knew before and we should be able to find out how to best minister to them. Remember, God is the only righteous judge that exists – we need to leave it to Him alone to judge those who are against us. Our place is to be ambassadors for Christ to the lost in this world. The “heap coals of fire on his head” isn’t saying that we’re causing them harm or pain, but that we’re helping them. During this time, if your fire in your home went out during the night you’d be miserable as it would get very cold. The home was often kept warm by the heat of the fire and the body heat of its inhabitants (including some of the animals like the milk goats). The fire, however, was the main source of heat. If you were in that predicament, you’d need to go and get some fire from another person and what they’d do is they’d get a large basket meant for carrying hot loads. It often was made of a thick woven mesh of reeds and was soaked in water to keep it from drying out and catching on fire. You’d then go to a neighbor until you found someone who was willing to help and they’d put the coals into the basket. That basket was often carried on the head as the most insulated portion was on the bottom and it was a lot easier to walk when the smoke was out of your eyes. What this text is saying is not that you’ll be harming your enemy, but helping them. We are to overcome evil actions to ourselves and those that we love with a godly response. As an ambassador of Christ, can we expect anything less?