The Sizzling Conscience
Return To Index

 Ro 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
 20 Therefore "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."
 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

GREELEY — A little Jewish praise word caused a lot of controversy as a Colorado church, divided over the proper spelling of 'hallelujah,' split up and re-formed as separate congregations.
The problem arose when the board of elders at Full Gospel Temple budgeted money for a praise banner to hang from the sanctuary ceiling bearing the word "hallelujah," or "alleluia." One faction insisted the word be spelled the first way, while the other wouldn't budge from the second way. Petitions were drawn up, rallies held and late-night threats received by both sides. One man, an "alleluia" supporter, was nearly clobbered by a rock that came through his window. The rock bore a note that said, simply, "hallelujah!"
Both sides were adamant that since they had grown up with a particular spelling, theirs was correct.
"It makes a tremendous difference, when you open your eyes and see it there on the banner spelled wrong," said a hallelujah supporter. "It's so jarring to see it without the 'h' at the beginning. Nobody spells it that way anymore."

"I was so sick about it I couldn't sleep," said Evelyn Haney, 57, an equally ardent 'alleluia' supporter who carried a sign during a recent day of picketing. "To think some people spell this wonderful word with a 'j' in it. It's not something where I question their salvation, but at times you have to wonder."
The two churches now meet in separate school auditoriums, and each has fashioned a banner to suit its own preference. Worship, says one parishioner, is "much better now." •
All content © 2003, Joel Kilpatrick. All rights reserved.  

Ro 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

How in the world are we going to learn to live peaceably with all men when we can’t live peaceably with each other over the spelling of alleluia! Or what style of worship we will use, or type of carpeting, or how we do communion?

What does it mean to live peaceably with each other anyway? Let’s look at this portion of Romans and see what the Holy Spirit will teach us today.   First of all notice the phrase, “all men.”

Once again this exhortation takes us beyond the church walls. This living peaceably with others is not restricted to the church family. (Although after reading that article, it might be a good place to start!) Little things can get large and ugly within church walls.

Note also the phrases “if it’s possible” and “as much as it depends on you.” The wording of these sentences suggests that sometimes it will be impossible to live peaceably with others but the fault should not lie with the Christian.

SO what does it mean to live peaceably? In the concordance “peaceably” is defined as “pacificatory”  It is not the idea of “peace at all costs” That would fly in the face of what Jesus said in Mt 10:34:

 Mt 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

Jesus didn’t come to pacify or make peace between men. He came to make peace between men and God. The sword that Jesus brings is the Word of God and that Word has a way of separating us into two camps. We either believe it, (receive it) or reject it. We are either with Christ or against Him. Lukewarm doesn’t cut it in His kingdom.

The idea behind “pacificatory” is to win over, to gain favor, good will, or esteem by friendly acts. It’s the heartbeat of the Acts 1:8 ministry. I don’t know if you have ever heard of them or not, but they are based in Green Bay and help churches to go out in their community and commit random acts of kindness.

That’s what it means to live peaceably with all men. If it’s possible, embark on kind and friendly acts. As much as it depends on you, undertake loving ventures with all people.. God wants us to do these things, and I think we should all pray about them at the beginning of our day.

Start your day by asking God to show you how you might live peaceably (act kindly) toward your fellow man. and that includes your family, fellow workers, or anyone else who crosses our path struggling with a  mattress during the course of a day.

Remember to include your family in these acts of kindness. It’s an interesting phenomena that I have noticed about men. We will often spend hours helping someone with a project, like changing oil in a car, or installing a door, or fixing a dryer, meanwhile the honey do list at home never gets touched. I don’t understand that, I’m guilty of it, and I know that it’s not biblical, but for some reason we seem to operate that way.

19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.

One of the cool things about these modern day Bibles is if they put a phrase in italics, it tells me that this quote can be found elsewhere in Scripture. Then I look in the margin and it tells me chapter and verse where I can find it.

“Vegeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” can be found in DT.32:35, but listen to the entire verse and you will see why Paul tells us not to avenge ourselves: “Vengeance is mine, and recompense. (A fancy word that means God will pay back) Their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.”

Scary thought for the wicked isn’t it? It makes a lot more sense to pray for them, rather than looking for ways to get even with them doesn’t it? It makes a lot more sense to love them! Think about this in relation to the abortion issue. When someone goes to an abortion clinic with a gun or a bomb to take matters into their own hands, they are demonstrating a lack of faith in God’s Word.

God says here, “Don’t worry about it, if someone is wicked and doing wicked things, I will take care of due time. Yes you should rescue the unborn, but killing another human being or doing damage to their property is not the biblical way to do it. We are to pray for and love our enemies.

Norma Mccorvey is the infamous Jane Roe of the Roe v Wade case that legalized abortion. She was working as a marketing director for an abortion clinic in Dallas. Operation Rescue shared the same building with the abortion clinic and a little girl named Emily Mackey, who was the 7 year old daughter of the office manager for Operation Rescue befriended Norma.

She was a little girl. Everyday she would pray that Jesus wouldn’t allow any abortions at the clinic that day and that Norma McCorvey would give her life to Jesus. Every time she saw Norma she would invite her to church and give her a big hug.

Well, one day Norma accepted the invitation, heard the gospel, gave her life to Christ, was baptized on Aug 11th, 1995 and became involved in pro-life ministry. The Roe of Roe v Wade actually filed suit several years ago to have it overturned...she was rejected. Isn’t it amazing what the prayer and love of a little child can do.

No wonder Jesus told us to become as little children! You see, we need to give place to wrath. Wrath is God’s domain, not ours, and isn’t it great that He is slow to anger?......That gives us time to pray, and love, and hug, and invite!

Still another biblical reference concerning vengeance is found in the 94th Psalm.

 Ps 94:1 O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongs-O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
 2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render punishment to the proud.
 3 LORD, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph?
 4 They utter speech, and speak insolent things; All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves.
 5 They break in pieces Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage.
Now is that descriptive of the abortion industry or what? Yet we read that vengeance, even in this situation belongs to God. We can pray it down...............hold on pastor what do you mean we can pray it down. I mean we can pray vengeance down but our motives must be pure.

Why would a Christian ask for God’s vengeance to shine forth? The answer is found in Ps 94:15, “But judgement will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

Judgement or God’s vengeance comes for the purpose of returning people to righteousness. God’s judgement often brings people to repentance, and that should be our prayer. But you know we need to change the word vengeance. “O Lord avenge these sinners! No, a better way would be, Lord, get their attention.

Our motive is always to bring people to repentance, because heaven is a great place and hell is a horrific place and eternity is a long time! Repentance causes us to think differently about our way of living and it causes us to think differently about the atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When someone thinks correctly about Jesus they will receive Him as their Lord and Savior. This then puts the matter in the Lord’s hands and that’s why we pray instead of avenge. The human style of vengeance is destructive and will bring people to the grave, where there is no hope, but God’s vengeance will perhaps bring people to the cross, where there is everlasting hope.

Are you miffed at someone? Is there someone in your life who’s actions grieve you. Put away your carnal weapons of hurtful words and deeds and get on your knees to wield the only effective weapon you have.......pray! Pray for their souls, pray that you would have opportunity to show them the love of Jesus.

20 Therefore "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."
 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Vengeance is the Lord’s. Our only venue for vengeance is to expose them to unsought and unmerited love. It includes taking them out to lunch, buying them a cup of coffee, but is not restricted to that. It’s clear from this passage that we are to take the initiative,,,,waiting for the other person doesn’t cut it.

In so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Well that doesn’t sound very neighborly does it? I have heard several explanations of this passage. One says that in the old days if someone’s cooking fire went out, people would go to a neighbor and borrow coals to restart their fire. The coals would be placed in a container that was carried on the head, and so you would heap coals on their head.

While that makes for a nice story, I don’t believe it is true to the context. Heaping coals is meant to be a painful experience, (not that we set out deliberately to inflict pain on our enemies) but acts of kindness have the same effect. It makes your enemy’s conscience sizzle.

In Proverbs 25:21,22 we read:  Pr 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you.

And what?  “The Lord will reward you!

And back a couple of verses in v15, we read: “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Again, breaking bones isn’t a neighborly thing to do, yet that is the effect of kind words and deeds.  It has been said that there is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness. It certainly was an overriding character trait of Jesus wasn’t it?

Finally Paul says, don’t be overcome by evil. See to it that you do not stoop to the level of your enemy. For when you do you are operating in the flesh and not in the Spirit.  The Spirit of Christ is far from the one who would resort to such behavior. Christ Himself overcame evil with good.

Another example is found in the OT. In 2 Kings 6, we read of the Syrians being miraculously handed over to the Israelites because of the prayer of Elisha. The King of Israel asked Elisha in 6:21, “Shall I kill them? Elisha replied, “No, set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” And the band of Syrian raiders came no more to the land of Israel. .

There is biblical precedence for loving your enemies, if only those in the Mideast understood their own Scriptures, but alas, the eye for eye and tooth for tooth mentality continues. But before we are too hard on them, we must admit that none of us could do what is required regarding our enemies in our own strength. We need the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

May He give us ideas for creatively blessing our enemies and the gumption to carry them out.

Norma McCorvey tells of the time that an operation rescue worker pulled into a parking place that she felt belonged to the abortion clinic. She went over to the lady’s car and started to rant and rave and curse and swear at the woman, getting to the point where she actually spit in the woman’s face.

The woman never changed her expression,. She simply wiped the spit away and looked Norma right in the eye and said. “Jesus loves you and so do I.” How many pieces of burning charcoal do you think that remark was worth? That woman had the Spirit of Christ. In fact you can almost see Him in her carrying His cross through the streets of Jerusalem again.
Beaten, jeered, and spit upon. And He could’ve snapped His fingers and taken care of the whole lot of them, but instead He kept plodding along to Golgatha, where He not only took care of them, but every sinner, every enemy of God,  this world has ever known.

Stop being hateful. Stop being vengeful. Let Jesus into your life and allow Him to live through you. Loving your enemies, doing good for them, praying for them, take the log out of your own eye and put it on the fire. Heap up those coals, for God  may use your kindness to bring them to the cross.