Daily Devotional | Romans 12:20 | Loving Enemies

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We are on the second to last day of our current daily devotional!  Romans 12 has had some very timely and challenging truths in it.  Paul has had much to say about how we respond and retaliate in certain situations.  More specifically, he has challenged us with how we should respond when we have been hurt.  Paul wants us to see that true Christians have godly retaliation. Continuing on with what we learned in verse 19 on Saturday, Paul wants to show us how to deal with enemies.

“To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’”  (Romans 12:20)

Like verse 19, this truth in verse 20 has the potential to set us free if we trust it.  Paul is basically saying that if we want to “get even” with our enemy, then we should love them.  Feed them if they are hungry.  Give them a drink if they are thirsty.  They expect you to withhold good from them.  They won’t know how to act when you extend love to them!  It is a massive godly example, but it also “heaps burning coals on their head.”  Your enemy is the one who suffers the consequences if you choose to respond with love.

How amazing is this truth?  We tend to believe that if we don’t try our best to get back at someone, then they get off the hook while we get hurt.  However, Paul is telling us, just like He did in verse 19, that our enemies have to deal with the God of the universe.  If we choose to show love, and leave the revenge to God, then He will work on our behalf.  We can live free, knowing that burning coals are on the head of our accusers.

Burning coals on the head of our enemies is imagery for “leaving it to the wrath of God” that we discussed on Saturday.  Loving our enemies leaves room for God to take care of the situation.  Being hurt by enemies is hard, but dealing with God’s wrath is worse. To make it even better, God promises to reward us if we act lovingly in this way. Paul is actually quoting Proverbs 25:21-22 in verse 20 of Romans 12. However, he leaves out one piece of Proverbs 25:22 in his quote. The end of verse 22 says, “and the LORD will reward you.” Amazing! Our enemies have to deal with God. We get rewarded. Sounds like we win, doesn’t it?

So, do you really want your enemies to pay for what they do to you?  Hand them over to God by loving them.  Trust that He will deal with the situation in His way. God will reward you. Let’s be clear before we end: this is not a spiteful “killing them with kindness,” in hopes that God will hurt our enemies. No, this is the genuine love that Paul taught us about in Romans 12:9.  Genuine love sets us free. We can be free from hurt, heartache, and the stress of defending ourselves.  Let’s live that way today.  Join us tomorrow as we wrap up this devotional.  Paul has an amazing send off for us in verse 21!

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  • How can you put this truth into practice, knowing that we tend to want to seek revenge for ourselves?
  • Have you ever been on the other side of this? Has someone loved you after you hurt them? How did it impact you?
Leave your answers and thoughts in the comments section below!

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