9 Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply. Honor others more than yourselves. 11 Stay excited about your faith as you serve the Lord. 12 When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes. 14 Bless those who hurt you. Bless them, and do not curse them. 15 Be joyful with those who are joyful. Be sad with those who are sad. 16 Agree with one another. Don’t be proud. Be willing to be a friend of people who aren’t considered important. Don’t think that you are better than others. 17 Don’t pay back evil with evil. Be careful to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 If possible, live in peace with everyone. Do that as much as you can. 19 My dear friends, don’t try to get even. Leave room for God to show his anger. It is written, “I am the God who judges people. I will pay them back,” (Deuteronomy 32:35) says the Lord. 20 Do just the opposite. Scripture says, “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. By doing those things, you will pile up burning coals on their heads.” (Proverbs 25:21,22) 21 Don’t let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good.
This fantastic passage centres on active love – not a warm feeling, but a conscious action to bless.
Paul unpacks love in the context of our church community in verses 9-13. I get the picture of a rich community, sharing highs, lows, joys and problems. This is a love that requires commitment, a love that will cost.
Paul then focuses on our reaction to evil. I’m thinking of that kind of evil that eats away at my spirit, that makes me feel worthless. It zaps me of energy. The response of Christ’s followers is to cultivate peace, not seek retribution. Petersen, in The Message, puts it in such a challenging way – “discover beauty in everyone” v 17. I’m going to find that hard. I know there is not much chance by my own energy and inclination, but praying for enemies (ie., people who treat me badly, take me for granted, or even take advantage of me) and doing an act of kindness will bless them. v 20 promises these acts will bring about a stirring of repentance as the enemy’s conscience and remorse is awakened, just like heaping up glowing coals and blowing on them sparks a flame. And God our heavenly Father is waiting for open hearts.
Thank you Lord that you promise my kindness to those who act against me will have a profound effect. I know that by your Spirit you will show me the beauty in everyone. Open my eyes. Thank you. Amen
Written by Claire Moore