Romans 12:9-21 (NRSV)
Verse 9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; Verse 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Verse 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Verse 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Verse 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Verse 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Verse 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Verse 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Verse 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. Verse 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Verse 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Verse 20No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Verse 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This passage contains one of the strangest admonitions to nonviolence—“leave room for the wrath of God!”—but one which people who actually have cause for righteous anger need. Do you have a grievance against another? It is entirely biblical to vent about it to God and even ask for the fair retribution you desire (God knows what you’re wanting anyway, you might as well be honest). You just have to let God take it from there, to work out God’s own justice. Vengeance is simply not your business.
Such prayer frees you, for your part, to choose compassion for the enemy and to treat them kindly. If they experience the contents of your kindness as offensively hot, that’s probably God’s business too. The Spirit burns away to allow for new growth. We ask only that Christ be proclaimed, and not ourselves, through our steady living in the Romans 12 way.
God, you know the ways I’ve been done wrong along the way. Part of me wishes you would let them have it. It’s up to you though. Give me the strength to love and serve anyone who opposes me. Amen.