J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Love Your Enemies Part 2 – Romans 12:14-21

Part One of this series can be found here.

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

You remember the old song “Love and Marriage”?  The lyrics are, “Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, Go together like a horse and carriage, This I tell ya brother, you can’t have one without the other.”  Well, in your efforts to bless those who persecute you and weep and show compassion to those who are weeping and in need of compassion, you will never be able to do it unless you remove haughtiness and associate with the lowly.

Since we don’t use the word “haughty” we should probably explore what it means because when hear the word, it brings to mind images of pasty white men and women with fake wigs from the movie Amadeus or the upper class who don’t want to go down with the Titanic.  Biblically though, the word for haughty is often translated proud or self-righteous.  It has the impression of dwelling on yourself with the goal of lifting yourself up on high above others.  It can be the same word used for lifting your arms in the air.  Obviously if you are haughty or proud or self-righteous you are not going to hang with the lowly or meek or humble.  Interestingly enough, God has reserved a special kind of anger for the haughty and hearing this should cause of us to quake in our boots.

  • 2 Samuel 22:28  You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.
  • Psalm 101:5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
  • Proverbs 16:18  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
  • Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
  • Isaiah 2:11 The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

Let me ask you this:  When was the last time you either repented of haughtiness or asked God to remove it from your life?  Yesterday?  How about never?  But when you begin to see so much ink spilled on a subject in scripture, you take notice.  We don’t get references to masturbation, drugs, venereal diseases, or the death of the dinosaurs but we get at least 20 references to haughtiness.

When that happens, you better sit up and pay attention because that means that haughtiness is a problem.  And when the definition of the outworking of your faith is the caring of the meek and lowly and when haughtiness is the enemy and obstacle to your caring for and spending time with the meek and lowly, you should pay careful attention.

Most simply, if you are haughty, you don’t spend time with the lowly or care for them because you think you are better than they are.  Unfortunately this is a pretty common occurrence in Christianity.  Let me give you a quick test for haughtiness.  When this verse speaks of associating with the lowly, what comes to mind?  Do you squirm?  Do you immediately feel guilty knowing that there are many people you pass by but try to ignore?  Or do you immediately move to the defense by reminding yourself how you do spend time with meek and lowly?  You see haughtiness ignores the lowly or either justifies itself from a few charitable acts.  Humility however neither wallows in self-justification nor ignores the conviction that comes from scripture.  Humility keeps a person from being wise in their own eyes and it fights haughtiness, pride, and arrogance.

This path down is the only way to truly live, act, and breathe in Christ’s imitation.  It is the motivation to resist repaying evil for evil.  It is the motivation to live honorably among all, even your enemy.  It is the motivation to love peacefully among all.

Let me give you an example of what passes for this in the Christian life:  Get up in the morning.  Maybe spend a few minutes reading your bible or praying a quick prayer in the car on the way to work.  At work, interact with a host of people, the most of which you disagree with politically and socially.  You consider it an accomplishment to not start a fight with any of them about their views on healthcare, gay marriage, their lifestyle, their entertainment choices, or their upcoming 3rd wife.  You hear your co-workers talk about problems with their ex-wife or with their finances and you think, “Wow, they have really screwed up their life,” but you don’t say anything.  On the way home, you listen to the local radio station and bemoan where all those crazy liberals are taking this once great country.  When you pull into your driveway, you see some neighbors who you kinda know and give them a nod or a wave.  The rest of your evening is a combination of resting, hanging with family, or maybe even doing a little more work.  When you hear commands about living peaceably and associating with the lowly and not cursing those who persecute you, you think, “Well, I didn’t say what I really thought when I disagreed with those folks at work, I go to church and the church does good stuff, so I guess I’m doing alright.”

That scenario though doesn’t describe in any way what we are being called to here.  Paul is talking about the living of a life with such deep humility that you don’t consider anyone below you.   You don’t resist arguing with co-worker to keep peace but you do it because you have such a deep humility in your own opinions and convictions.  When you hear of a co-worker who has been divorced or has money problems, you don’t think, “Wow, they screwed up,” but instead think, “Do they know the hope of Christ?” or maybe you think that folks here at SK could help.  Your heart longs to know your neighbors because God has providentially placed them in your life.

There is only one reason this life is possible or even worth attempting:  the life of Jesus.  Consider your Savior’s example in each of these commands.

  • 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
    • At His crucifixion:  Luke 23:34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
  • 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
    • At the death of His friend Lazarus:  John 11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.
  • 16 Live in harmony with one another.
    • Appearing after His resurrection:  John 20:19 Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
  • Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
    • Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
  • Never be wise in your own sight.
    • Before Jesus’ crucifixion, He prayed, Matthew 26:39 “He fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
  • 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
    • Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
  • 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
    • Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  His making peace is your avenue to making peace.

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Jesus securing all of these things for you is the power of the Gospel whereby you can imitate and follow Jesus.  So, you don’t have to avenge yourself but leave wrath and vengeance to the other one who has the right to execute wrath and vengeance:  God.  Any time you decide to return the sarcastic remark or blog post or email, you have decided that you are God and you have the right to vengeance.  But we as sinners have not right to execute our own vengeance because we were the enemies who had rebelled against God and He was the one who chose to forgive us.  Through Christ we have a better way:  If your enemy is hungry feed them.  If your enemy is thirsty give them something to drink.

In doing this you will heap burning coals on their head.  This is a quote from Proverbs 25:21-22.  Now heaping burning coals normally implies judgment but it more practically is a euphemism for opening people’s eyes.  You see, the whole world expects you and everyone else to return complaint with complaint, bitterness with bitterness and hurt with hurt.  But when you can genuinely return love and blessing in the face of hatred and cursing, people take notice.  You want to know why?  Because returning love and blessing and in the face of hatred and cursing is what God has done.  The kindness of God is what led you to repentance.

And because Jesus has lived for those who have sinned so egregiously and because Jesus has loved those who hated Him and because Jesus died for those who would not for any cause other than their own, and because Jesus showed you grace, you can show it to others.  This is the upside down nature of the Gospel.  Our pathway to showing compassion and sympathy and offering forgiveness to others comes about because that is exactly what Christ has done for you.

January 25, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


  1. Hey man, I love the connections with Jesus. Good work, bro.

    Comment by J. R. Daniel Kirk | January 25, 2010 | Reply

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