Summary: This message tells us how to treat people who hurt you. Romans 12:14-21 describes how to deal with difficult people.

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”Putting Coals of Fire on Difficult People”

Romans 12:14-21

When someone hurts you how are you to respond? With revenge or love? Before Christ the Old Testament law was “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Jesus brought a new level of ethical law, the law of love. The word “revenge” has no place in the life of a Christ follower.

There are some people who live for revenge. For twelve years we lived in Taylor, Michigan a suburb of Detroit. I served as founding pastor of a new Free Methodist Church. We started a pre-school and Christian School during that time. A mother and her son started coming to our church. The father was a paving contractor and I visited him from time to time to encourage him to seek the Lord. He told me that his brother was a Nazarene preacher. His brother had hurt him and since that time he refused to speak to his brother.

I talked to him about God’s love and the need to forgive just as Jesus forgives sin. He said, “If my brother goes to heaven, I don’t want to go there. I would rather go to hell than be where my brother is.” This man had a hard and bitter heart.

I. Christ Followers are called to a higher calling.

How are you to treat people who hurt you? Do you seek revenge? Is your attitude - “I’ll get even or else die trying?”

God’s Word makes it clear that Christ followers are called to a higher standing of morality than the standards of this world. Romans 12:17-21

Years ago James Patterson and Peter Kim wrote a book titled, “The Day America Told the Truth.” The goal of the book was to get at the moral views and ethical disposition of Americans. The results of their research concluded that the majority of Americans lack moral integrity.

• 74% of those surveyed said they would steal without regret.

• 64% said they would lie if it was to their advantage

• 87% said the 10 commandments have no moral validity

• 86% of those who participated in the survey admitted to lying regularly to their parents and 75% say they lie to their friends.

• 74% say they can steal without remorse

The Ten Commandments and the teaching of Jesus call us to live a life of integrity. Christ’s love is to be evident in your daily life 7 days a week. Christ followers are to live at a higher standard than the standards of this world. Jesus tells in Matthew 5:38-44---how love is to be lived out in the real world.

A man went into the preaching ministry, worked for seven years, then resigned to go back to medical school and become a doctor. He came to the conclusion that “People don’t want spiritual health. They just want to feel good.” He said that after working as a physician for seven years, he again resigned, this time to go back to school and become an attorney. He said, “People don’t want spiritual health. They don’t even want physical health. They just want to get even.”

You know people that are consumed with revenge. They have been hurt and live to settle the score and get even.

The Apostle Paul tells you how to get even with people who hurt you – put coals of flame on their heads. Romans 12:17-21

What is Paul talking about? Heaping coals of flame on a person’s head doesn’t seem too kind. When you return kindness and blessing to those who hurt you, your acts of kindness magnify their sense of guilt. Your love and kindness may drive them to repentance. Paul is saying that your returning good for evil will bring “burning pangs of shame and contrition” on the one hurting you.

No Christian is to seek revenge. To seek revenge is to take the work of God out of God’s hand. God has reserved vengeance for Himself.

# A young Christian Irishman was once hit on one cheek and then he turned the other. The other guy hit him so hard the Irishman was knocked down. The Irishman got up and beat the stuffing out of the other fellow. A by-stander asked why in the world he did what he did. “You turned the other cheek; why didn’t you leave it like that?” “Well,” he said, “The Bible says to turn the other cheek, and I had only one other cheek to turn. The Lord didn’t tell me what to do after that, so I did what I thought I ought to do.”

When you think of seeking revenge, think of Jesus. He was unjustly accused, whipped, inflicted with pain, yet when he hung on the cross; he did not seek revenge. Jesus demonstrated that God is love. Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing?”

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