As we finish up , we look at the statement of “having everything together spiritually.” As Christians, being honest means that we don’t have everything figured out. But what we can say is that we are moving towards getting everything together spiritually. We are going to have the right mindsets and go after those things in the heart of God.
In the time of Romans, it wasn’t normal for letters to be sent. Very little one-on-one correspondence occurred. So letters were written to groups of people to be passed around. So when he writes to this group, he is aware of areas of concern of that group. We will see Paul address specific issues that were concerns of the people in Rome. He is telling them to get real with their relationship with God and let that move in the right direction.
It was common and even legal for retaliation against evil being done on a person. But Paul, mirroring Jesus’ wisdom, to look at what is right and go after that. And anyone who is in the midst of peer pressure, you know how hard it is to take a stand especially when it goes against the group. Paul says to be careful. Careful means to “plan ahead.” It is hard in English to capture the exact nature of this word. It means to not just fall into situations. You cannot prepare for every challenge in every moment, but we are not to just be idle in our preparedness. And when we get into conflict, take action to not be the source of that conflict.
And Paul completes this by telling them not to take revenge. We are in God’s hands. God is with us, and vengeance is in his hands. We need to leave room for him in those situations. This can be very hard. Some families have been hurt beyond what most of us can imagine. If we are honest, if you image someone hurting your family, it would be very hard not to have a vengeful mindset.
I have to imagine that in those situations that are really tearing at my heart, it is the preparedness of us studying, praying, and being together that will invite the Holy Spirit to help us in those situations.
Paul goes further and it gets harder. He says if our enemy is hungry, feed him. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. We will not allow the enemy to dictate our actions and hearts. And it is through those actions that will “heap burning coals on his head.” These are the situations where we see Christians being persecuted and they continue to reach out to help those in the midst of enemies. God wants to use them to reach them, and it is this mindset that will reach them.
Are you ready to be there? Are you ready to respond in a way that glorifies God?
There is evil all around you, but we are going to choose a position with God. And by choosing this position, we are going to change the evil around us for the glory of God. Imagine if you speak truth into the hard situations. You keep the roads clear and open for God to reach that person. No one has gone too far away from God. No person is completely divided from God’s grace.
It is not easy. I hope everyone wants to desire to have this mindset. And notice that Paul doesn’t say “ignore your feelings”, but he does say that we are not to let our feelings of hurt or vengeance pull us away from God’s will. Let us strengthen our resolve to do God’s work, and when the rubber meets the road, that is when we take ownership of the moment so that God can take ownership of you.
12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 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.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (ESV)
20 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.” (ESV)
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)