|9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord 20 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.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.|
So many things spoke to me. I've read these verses 100 times before, but when I heard them Sunday, it was as if I had new ears. Especially verses 14-21 were new for me on Sunday. One of the pastors asked how many times we rejoice with those who rejoice, emphasizing the writer was not speaking about your friends in this verse. Ouch! It's hard to be happy, rejoice for someone who might not be on my side of the fence. And to mourn with those who mourn? Come again, pastor? That's a little harder to wrap my little brain around. For example, he said, most of you probably heard about the senseless shooting in the Amish community...
|Following the tragic Amish school shooting of 10 young schoolgirls in a one-room Amish school in October 2006, reporters from throughout the world invaded Lancaster County, PA to cover the story. However, in the hours and days following the shooting a different, an unexpected story developed.|
In the midst of their grief over this shocking loss, the Amish community didn't cast blame, they didn't point fingers, they didn't hold a press conference with attorneys at their sides. Instead, they reached out with grace and compassion toward the killer's family. The afternoon of the shooting an Amish grandfather of one of the girls who was killed expressed forgiveness toward the killer, Charles Roberts. That same day Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family to comfort them in their sorrow and pain.
Wow! There aren't even any words. Precious Lord, do a work in me.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 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.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Do you, like me, kind of like the idea of heaping burning coals on the head of your enemy? I said enemy, not the person who grates on your nerves, or cuts you off on the highway, or has 50 items in her cart in the express lane. Enemy, like one who slanders your name, kills your child, seeks to destroy you...enemy. Here's an interpretation of what the verse probably means...
"heap coals of fire on his head" - this was not as painful as it sounds. In Israel, if your fire went right out, you could go to your neighbour and he might put some burning coals in a bucket, which bucket you then carried, on your head, back to your own dwelling. So to "heap coals of fire" upon the head of your enemy, was to furnish him graciously with the neccessary elements of life - ie. food, water and warmth. Prov 25:22. (Cliff York)
Boy, do I have a lot to learn!
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer."