The Task at Hand: Live Peaceably.

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.”  (Romans 12:14–21 (ESV)

One way to handle conflict at work, along with following proper established protocol by the company or institution for which you work, is to follow the guidelines set forth in Romans 12:14-21. While these commands and encouragements are applicable for the home, personal relationships, church and when engaging the public, they also contain practical wisdom for the work place.

Today, we examine Romans 12:19-21. The text says, “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. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Let’s examine the verses.

I’m sure you have heard the popular adage, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” This saying means to not be angry when another person has upset you, but instead do something that will upset that person even more than they upset you. In other words, the worldly culture advises a victim to retaliate and to seek revenge for wrongs done to them by someone else.

However, the Bible is always counter cultural. The Scriptures repeatedly advise, encourage and command believers in Christ to live lives in contrast with the world’s values (I John 2:15-17). This is clearly apparent in today’s text.

Rather than seek our own personal vengeance, we are to leave judgment for wrongs suffered into the sovereign authority of God (Proverbs 20:22). He will justly repay.

What, if anything, is the believer to do when suffering unjustly by a fellow co-worker, member of one’s family, or even from a member of one’s church family? God’s counsel is clear: “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.”

What does the phrase “heap burning coals on his head” mean in this context? Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Heaping burning coals on his head, along with the first part of Romans 12:20, is a quotation from Proverbs 25:21–22. The coals on the head may refer to a ritual in Egypt in which a person showed his repentance by carrying a pan of burning charcoal on his head. Helping rather than cursing an enemy may cause him to be ashamed and penitent.”

What if the wrongdoer feels no shame or repentance for the wrong they have done to you? Again leave it in the Lord’s hands.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “The Christian must be free from the desire to ‘get even.’ Such release from the instinct of revenge is possible because the believer knows that God will right all wrongs in His own perfect judgment (Deuteronomy 32:35). Moreover, Scripture urges us to show grace to the wrongdoer because God is patient with him (Proverbs 25:21-22).”

Finally, Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Let’s unpack the verse.

The word overcome (νικάω; nikao) is found twice in this verse. In both instances, God gives the believer in Christ a command. In the first instance, the command is to not allow evil to prevail, or be victorious, in the believer’s life and living for Christ. On the contrary, the believer is to be victorious over evil by obeying God’s command to display godly, moral qualities. Both commands, the positive and the negative are equally important.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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