“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-21, NIV).
Has anyone hurt you recently? Unfortunately, one of the direct results of the fall of man is that we humans regularly mistreat each other. Whether it’s something as momentary as someone cutting us off in traffic, or something as devastating as a heartbreaking betrayal of trust, we regularly bump into this painful aspect of life on a fallen planet.
The Bible clearly lays out for us the way Holy Spirit intends for us to respond. Does He give us leeway to lash out? Nope. No evil for evil. No cussing. No fist waving. Not even any insulting them under our breath. On the contrary, He calls us to overcome evil with good. Instead of responding in anger, He asks us to respond with genuine kindness to those who commit injustices against us. Wow. What an incredible challenge! Is it even possible?
Yes. This is where we cry out for Holy Spirit’s help. This is where we surrender our anger to Him. This is where we allow Him to crucify our sinful nature with Jesus. This is where we ask Him to cleanse our hearts and replace the anger with His very real love for our persecutors.
He will answer those prayers! And He’s inviting us to understand just how powerful it is when we allow Him to build into us a habitual response of kindness towards perpetrators of unkindness. When you and I respond in genuine love, we are heaping live spiritual coals on that individual’s head.
Now, that may seem like just another picture of revenge. It’s not. To understand God’s live coals, look at the story in Isaiah 6. An angel takes a burning coal from God’s altar and touches it to the prophet’s lips (vv. 6-7). Then he pronounces, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” The live coal was for cleansing. God’s coals are actually agents for the removal of sin – and its effects – from the world around us!
When you allow the Holy Spirit to take away your anger, and instead produce mercy in your heart for the one mistreating you… wow. That’s a spiritual act of violent redemption. God is pouring His power through you. You are heaping live spiritual coals of raw cleansing, transformational power on that person’s head. You will be astounded at what God can do in someone’s life when you respond to their mistreatment of you with genuine, self-sacrificing love.
That’s when we will start to see lives turned upside down in the most beautiful, glorious way. That’s when the world will start to take notice because… we are actually living like Jesus.
How can we apply these principles within today’s heated political divide? How can we apply them on social media? How can we apply them in our marriages and family life?