Paul wrote in Romans a comforting message to God’s unjustly persecuted people saying, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). And he repeated the same message in Hebrews 10:30.
His message is a quotation taken from Deuteronomy 32:35. The Lord assures the faithful that He will avenge them in due time, for “shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him?” (Luke 18:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10; Revelation 6:9–11).
The believer doesn’t need to take revenge for in the day of God’s vengeance, the wicked will receive the punishment for their deeds. By their lives of rebellion, they have put themselves out of God’s will which makes His presence a consuming fire to them (2 Thessalonians 1:6–10; Revelation 6:15–17).
Therefore, the Paul led by the Holy Spirit advises God’s children “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12:20). This is also a quote from Proverbs 25:21, 22.
Thus, kindness is the best vengeance that a Christian can do against his persecutor. Heaping coals of fire on an enemy’s head is an act of love rather than of hatred. The passage in Proverbs 25:22 closes with these words, “and the Lord shall reward thee,” for the good deeds done to your enemy. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Giving vengeance is not a mark of strength, but of weakness. The one who allows his anger to rise up and his Christian principles of love and self-control to be left out actually fails in his Christian walk. But the believer who controls his wish for revenge and turns a wrong deed done to him into an opportunity for showing love receives a victory over evil.
Loving our enemies is more effective in bringing peace for it can neutralize evil (Prov. 15:1) and win a soul for the Lord. For God has not given to sinners the vengeance they have deserved, but rather has shown them love. And it is the kindness, patience, and long-suffering of God that lead men to forsake their sins (Rom. 2:4).
How can a believer know exactly how to treat his enemy? The believer may apply the golden rule which states, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12). The golden rule summarizes the duty of the second table of the Ten Commandments, and is another expression for loving our neighbor as our selves (Matt. 19:16–19; 22:39, 40).
In His service,
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