Love and Care for Your Enemies—Romans 12:19-20

Written by Juli Camarin on .

"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" (Romans 12:19-20)

An amazing thing happens when you internalize a passage of scripture such as this and start living it out. Once you show consideration for people who disregard you, then enemies can no longer stay enemies. By caring for them, God's love spills out of your heart, becomes an action and people respond to it.

God's love showed action when he sent Jesus into a hostile world. Romans 5 tells us that while we are still steeped in sin, God demonstrated his love for us in the person of Jesus Christ ( Romans 5:8 ). It is amazing to think that this act of mercy brought us into fellowship with God. Romans 5 goes on to say, "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" ( Romans 5:10 ). His act of love brought us to the place where we were no longer enemies. His mercy and goodness was never deserved, but Christ's purpose was to overcome evil and offer us freedom from death.

In the same way, our actions should resemble this act of love and mercy. Paul is quoting from an Old Testament passage when he reminds us to love our enemies by caring for them when they are in need. ( Proverbs 25:21-22 ) But Jesus told the disciples something very similar, "I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" ( Matthew 5:44 ). And again in the Gospel of Luke, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you" ( Luke 6:27-31 ). This attitude shows the genuineness of your faith. Jesus' point is that even sinners love and care for those who love them. But in the same way that he came and rescued his enemies making  us sons and daughters, we should love and care for those who hate us. In doing this we are not only allowing room for God to judge and make right in the end, but we are extending the love and mercy of God to our fellow mankind. Romans 2 says that it is the goodness of God that brings us to repentance ( Romans 2:4 ). By showing his goodness, love and grace to one another we are opening the door for them to come to God and be fully justified before him.

Today, I pray that you understand this amazing truth from God's word. May this revelation of God's mercy toward you extend to those around you and bless them. May God's love flow freely through you as you love and care for your enemies in His name, amen.