Honor and Burning Coals

Romans 12:9-21 (ESV)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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.” 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.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Lots of good stuff in this passage. Paul asked the church in Rome to outdo one another in showing honor. Was this simply because the Roman World encouraged people to seek to outdo each other in seeking their own honor? I am not certain, but our world today seems to have that goal. Although we are generally encouraged to think of others, it seems disingenuous. Most people are all about themselves.

So, like Paul encouraged the Roman Church, let’s seek one another’s honor. Let’s show this world that we live in the difference that Christ makes. If we seek to honor one another, and do not seek it for ourselves, people will see a difference. They will wonder what we have that they do not.


The rest of the admonitions in this chapter are along the same lines. We should not be haughty, but should associate with the lowly; never be wise in our own sight—I can easily get to thinking more about myself than about seeking to honor others, so this is particularly difficult for me. If, however, I am seeking to honor others, it becomes easier.


Paul echoed Jesus’ admonition to care even for your enemy. He said this would heap burning coals on your enemy’s head. People do not understand how to handle people that do not do things the same way they do. So if we are nice, even loving toward our enemies, they will be beside themselves. Perhaps, we could even influence them to think about Jesus?


by Virgil Stripes

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