Drive-by Scripture, Romans 12:18-21

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 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.

It isn’t always possible to be peaceful, but should always be our first path to choose. Situations may arise where another party will argue with you no matter what you do; if so, know when to walk away. There will be times in life when you may have to defend yourself, perhaps physically, but don’t rush to do harm, and if you do, make sure it’s not with malice in mind. When we approach our enemies with kindness as much as it is feasible (and safe) to do so, the pressure is on them to respond appropriately. If they continue to be your enemy despite your best efforts at peace, they make themselves a target for God, and thus you should not be seeking payback. If payback is required, God will take care of that, and in His own time.


1 Response to “Drive-by Scripture, Romans 12:18-21”

  1. September 8, 2008 at 4:41 am

    I find that I can respond to this as long as I do it in a “loving way.” The passage that you quote is beautiful, and your discussion replete with wisdom, and wonderful advice.

    Yet, I have great difficulty believing that a God of Love is an avenging God. It would be so contrary to His character.

    Whereas the scriptural interpretation provided credits God’s wrath as that which avenges, let me offer this statement from Jesus:

    “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”

    This makes God synonymous with Good. Verse 21 can be restated thusly: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with God [Good].”

    If we’re cautioned in this manner regarding evil, why would God (Good) use a overcoming-remedy that we’re forbidden to use–namely, vengeance?

    And the quote above, “leave room for God’s wrath…,” instead of the KJV “give place unto wrath….” is misleading, and may not be true to the source. I’m just saying.

    And the other: “for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” The KJV states it this way: “for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Both versions attribute the statement to the “Lord.”

    If the “I” in the “I will repay” is God, then it could properly be read “Good will repay.” Good becomes the vengeance that will be “coals of fire” heaped upon our enemy’s head. Therefore, we’re told to resort to Good, rather than to evil, by feeding our enemy’s hunger, and quenching our enemy’s thirst. This means a great deal more than physical food, as in–“I have meat to eat that ye know not of”–but that would take this discussion in a totally new direction.

    In many places, the “Lord” may properly be interpreted as the “Law”, as in the following statement of Law: “Be not deceived; God [Good] is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

    Hence, Good for Good, and evil for evil.

    This Law is all the vengeance that is needed. We’re warned, in turn, to turn from vengeance, because the Law is blind: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons….”

    Therefore, we have been given the Golden Rule, and many of Jesus’s admonitions, such as:

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

    To recap: it would be a grave mistake to return evil for evil, even if we think that our enemy is deserving. The Law of Retribution, also known as the Golden Rule, will surely return to us all that we send forth, whether for Good (God) or for evil–ignorance of the Law is no excuse. In other words, it won’t matter.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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September 2008

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