How to Live with and Love Difficult People

Romans 12: 17-21

I. Living at peace with everyone

In the park ministry yesterday, Mario, one of our deacons, talked about how Jesus is the vine and we are the branches (John 15) and how we then produce fruit by being connected to the vine. I thought of how this that relates so much to today’s text. I thought of how we as fallen human beings don’t have good fruit produced on our own. In fact, if you think about how fruit juice comes out of fruit, it comes out when it’s smashed.

My daughter, Caitlin, asked me the other day how apple cider was made. I said, Babe, they just smash apples.

That’s it?

Yep, that’s it and life is like that when we have things pressing in like tension, hard times, and relationship struggles. When those start pressing in on us, that is when what is inside our real character a lot of times comes out. Jesus said it’s no credit to you if you love those who love you. If you’re kind to those who are kind to you, he said anybody can do that. He said even the gentiles do that.

But, you are to love your enemies. That’s why Christ came. We were enemies of God, and he came while we were still sinners and died for us. So he said, you do the same. We have to ask the question when tensions come, relationships are hard, or people are jerks, so how do you respond in those moments?

Illustration: When I lived in Florida, we had orange trees and we had kumquat trees. We don’t really get kumquats up here because people don’t buy kumquats from Florida because they’re disgusting! They are somehow sourer than a lemon. They look like a tiny little orange so if you were to have one for the first time, you’re expecting sweetness and what you get is the most bitter thing you’ve ever tasted. What I’m saying is, when we’re squeezed as believers we’re supposed to be producing sweetness like an orange, and it’s devastating to a world that opens us up and they find out that we’re really sour.

If possible —–Sometimes it’s possible and sometimes it’s not possible
Why would it not be possible to live at peace with some people?

Why even ask this?? It’s more of a question for you—what relationship comes to mind?
BEWARE — Two extremes: 1. Savior complex (you can change this person) 2. Self-Protect

Don’t be so prideful to think that you are the only one who can help these boys!
This phrase—IF POSSIBLE- was put in there for people like me… I tend to think I
can win everyone over. I Can save everyone
If you try and patiently love people to God… if you have more of a shepherds
heart… people that you can’t help or broken relationships will lean very heavy
on you.

You can’t save everyone and you can’t FIX EVERY RELATIONSHIP!
Are you a resource or a friend?
Some people will try and manipulate or control you. Doing the right thing and what God
has called you to do will distance yourself from those people and that’s okay!
Some of us have a bit of a Savior complex.
Romans 5:5
Do not let people who don’t like you defeat you! The love of God has been
poured out in your heart through the Holy Spirit and that is all you need!
Is there someone in your life that tries to control you or they are placed above the
relationships that God has given you as number 1 priority?! An in law that tries to control
Yet this truth can be twisted—sometimes people give up too easily on relationships because
they don’t need difficult people in their lives…. The whole cancel culture
I’ve seen facebook posts about this and wondered how many people are cancelled that they
could reconcile with!
THE OTHER EXTREME— SELF PROTECT….. The next phrase in this passage is for those
who can too easily let by gone’s be by gone’s
B. As far as it depends on you
This is when you have done everything in your power to reconcile or to
address issues
Positional Forgiveness: Holding love and compassion your heart regardless of the
status of the relationship.
Transactional Forgiveness: Wrongs are recognized, heartfelt repentance is
experienced and the relationship restored.

You are in a healthy place when you can leave the relationship but you truly do want that
person to be blessed and to grow!
II. Loving your enemies

  1. First things first: Own your stuff
  2. Bless your enemy
    This is the person that has tried to attack you, they have tried to falsely accuse
    you or hurt someone you love.
    READ ****-Matthew 5:43-45
  3. Heap burning coals on His head by doing good to him.
    This phrase seems completely out of place to the 21 st century reader
    First look at the way it is written and the context—
    On the CONTRARY—contrary to what…..avenging yourself.
    The context suggests a loving heart towards your enemy. So why the burning
    Commentator Leon Morris “a most unlikely procedure if taken literally” 1 

SIDENOTE—One of the ways you can tell if it’s figurative or literal—if a literal reading and
application is absurd Example—Brianna seeing a lady with no hand

William Klassen —points to a custom in Egyptian literature whereby a penitent
person carried coals of fire in a bowl
“In the Egyptian literature and in Proverbs the ‘coals of fire’ is a dynamic symbol
of change of mind which takes place as a result of a deed of love. ”

The Good deeds then are with the GOAL of winning the person over so that the TRANSACTION
OF FORGIVENESS CAN TAKE PLACE. If that doesn’t happen then God will deal with the person–

  • God is not mocked, a man reaps what he sows. Yet that is in God’s hands, you are to patiently
    pray and hope that this person reconciles JUST as GOD has done for YOU!

1 Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester,
England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 454.

To pray for those who would seek to persecute us or to live at peace with those who are difficult in our lives, give us wisdom this morning, Lord Jesus, and may it be all for your glory, Amen.

Introduction: We need Christ and that is why the perspective of Romans is so important. Really, all that we have comes from him and all we do comes out of this love for our savior who gave his all for us. We were enemies of God, so why would we not love our enemies? Romans 12:17 says,

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 overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We’re gonna break this down. We’re going to talk about living peaceably with everyone first, if it’s possible, and as far as it depends on you–those two statements. Then, we’re going to get into loving your enemies. We’re going to talk about how to bless your enemies. First, own your stuff, then blessing your enemies, then what does he mean by heaping burning coals on your head? It seems out of place. It’s all about love and loving your enemies, and then it’s heap burning coals on his head. What’s up with that? We’ll end by talking about that.

First off, that statement in verse 18 “if it’s possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Before that verse he’s talking about not repaying evil for evil then returns to talking about enemies, but in the middle, “if it’s possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” Don’t we want that deep in our hearts– to live at peace with all people? And yet, it is so elusive is it not? It’s so elusive, why would it not be possible to live at peace with some people? Why, I thought everybody was good, no there’s no sin, there’s no need for Jesus to die on the cross for people. If everybody is good, and we don’t need Jesus, then why is it so picking hard to live peaceably with people, even the people that are closest to you right sometimes you find that the people that are close to us are the hardest people to live peaceably with wow what an example of how we need Jesus why even ask that question of course there’s all kinds of reasons why it is hard to live peaceably with people and why it’s not possible penny people are sinful people are manipulative people are controlling people are easily angered people are are self focused and so when you live where people you’re gonna have some of that tension because of that brokenness that exists inside of all of us but I love what he says here I love this phrase if possible I don’t know about you but it’s very freeing to thrift freeing to me because you know what my problem is I have a savior complex I’m just gonna admit it like I would there was this song when I was in in high school as a Christian band and it was I wanna try to save the world but it doesn’t always go that way five run friends you know what I’m talking about as as as underground Christian music followers of the of the 90s know that stuff but it’s like I wanna save the world I want I want to help people I want to minister to people and I have a shepherds heart and a pastor should have that but when I say savior complex that is Speaking of the negativity that can come from that our strengths can often be our weaknesses where I want to fix everything and and if there’s a broken relationship with me and someone else I’m going to win them over like it may take years but I’m gonna do it I’m gonna win him over with the youth that I had this one youth she was often wouldn’t come to youth group for weeks and then I I’m worrying about her she her parents didn’t go to church or dad Add all kinds of addiction issues and I just cared about her and I and I I felt bad always asking her why like hey I hope to see it this Wednesday for youth group so I would say things like hey this is the relentless off here you know trying to kind of you know get some Comic Relief in the midst of that but it’s so hard when you’re trying to reach people and love people and you just can’t and it’s frustrating or maybe you’re on the other extreme there’s two extremes here the other one is that you self protect and so you easily can cancel people out it’s like doing a time for difficult people in my life see you and they had no problem with it so you you usually we kind of lean one way or the other OK so where are you on that once you to think about that as we go through this and who in your life is very hard to love who in your life do you not have peace with there’s tension when you think about those people as we as we go through this let me give you an example of of how I the Lord has worked on me over the years through people the Lord uses people to work on you his he uses people and he uses his word and if you have this word there you’ll know how to deal with people but if you don’t go to his word you’re going to be tossed about the waves as James says because you’re gonna have no idea ’cause people are tough OK you’re gonna need the creator of people who knows the human heart in the human mind to help you know how to navigate relationships when I was at the boys home if you don’t know how and I worked at a boys home before when administry right out of college it’s for state custody kids and these kids my heart just was broken for so many times they came from very broken of home situations I’d see kids waiting for their dad to come visit him and he never show up they just teenage boy just bawling just as most just sad thing and I kind of took on that I’m a father figure in their life and I took that very seriously and then my own son when he was Tommy when he was so probably 1 1/2 or one maybe one um had some bruises on his legs after I would I picked up some kids I would have to go pick him up from school and he was in his car seat in the back and and and and he’s crying in his car so he just babies do and the teenager was sitting up and when they’re little I actually know he must have been real little ’cause his his his seat was turned the opposite direction you know they have their seat turned this way and this kid sitting right beside my son Tommy and he’s just and he’s got his arm over in the seat OK and um and Tommy scream goes from a normal to a pain scream and I and I said hector I need you to get your hand out of the car seat why so just I just need you to do it there’s no way that kid would have admitted to doing this so I wasn’t even gonna try to go there have been a waste of my time I said just I want you to get your hand out I end up finding bruises on him after that little bruises so then you’re stuck what do I do I care about these kids I’m a father figure in their life but my own son is being heard then we then we end up having a kid who who was a child molester come into our home we even know about it they didn’t tell us and it was like what do I do and we decided that we needed to go into youth measures wasn’t the best ministry for us with our kids when they were little so we went into church ministry which is what we went to school for and I remember having such a hard time with it I was talking to the director there was a program director there was a director was talking to the director who we’re telling how it is a lot and then sometimes it was not that great this time it was a good thing for me he said he said TJ don’t be so prideful to think that you are the savior of these kids he said God will bring someone else along OK you had an impact but sometimes you have to pass the baton and and and and I learned a lesson through that and I continually learn lessons in this area where I gotta fix it I’ve gotta work through relationship and sometimes it’s not possible it wasn’t possible in that situation for me to live peaceably with these guys and be the father God has called me to be to my kids and the husband to my wife who is really struggling at that moment and so what is it for you situation in your life where maybe your spouse needs to come before someone else a good close friend that is causing issues in your marriage and in law perhaps even that happens sometimes where you realize that I’m to be leaving and cleaving to my spouse and putting this person above everyone else and so I have to let this go it’s not possible for me to do both here maybe it’s a situation like that or maybe it’s a situation where someone has manipulates you and constantly controls you I I was helping a guy that I met he didn’t even call he didn’t come to the park or anything but someone in the park new him and and he was young and he got a job he was right out of prison and heroin issues got got got a job right away and I saw this guy man he really wants he’s got a job like he he wants to do something I’m like cool I can be a part of seeing this guy restored and I want so badly to see the broken restored you know and so I want to be a part of this and I start hanging out with this guy and he came to church for awhile this is years ago here Riverside and and then and then he just started using me and I’ve never been in such a manipulative relationship in my life it was rough I mean every time I would go do something with him it was like he needed this and he needed that and he needed me to do this it was always something every single time and it involves money it involves time and I never knew what it was going to be and then if I ever one time I told him I couldn’t like I gotta start putting my boundaries here man I told him I couldn’t he got so mad at me in the car I thought he was gonna fight me right there as I was driving it was that bad so I had to let go of that relationship and remember hanging with Steve when I did that we were hanging out I said and I just can’t I just can’t do this anymore he’s tell him tell him you can’t like I text him said man I’m I’m just done bro I’m just done just can’t I love you I just I would like this this is not I’m not helping you and uh and and and I still care for that guy but I have to realize that it’s not possible sometimes just some people it’s just not possible and Romans 55 give some perspective on how we are to be getting our our joy and our peace and our love from from God most high from the king of kings from our Lord and our savior and it can’t be from people and sometimes even pastors forget that at times like I I just wanna have an impact we can’t we we we take our sense of purpose out of fixing this relationship or helping this person and there is some good there but we cannot allow it to be our full identity Romans 55 says this and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us he is our comforter you catch that phrase God love has been poured into your heart OK so you can live this life to love people and leave and let go at times and still stay full of peace and joy and love because it comes from God most high first before you get any love from anyone else and I have found that that is where I have to stay centered and focused not that I deserve it but that he gives it to me and I am so blessed by that so may that be our focus all right so that’s that’s don’t extreme yes that’s true but yet at the same time the truth of let people go can be twisted like I have to let it go I have to II it’s not possible for me to be at peace with this person but sometimes we tend to go OK well um I don’t need no difficult people in my life right that’s cancel culture this person is difficult this person you know made a mistake and we and we just immediately cut him off and that is a dangerous thing so there’s kind of that tension there and you’re gonna have to ask God for wisdom in relationships ask him for wisdom go to the Lord because it’s not always an easy answer the other extreme is that self protection mode I’m going to just yeah I’m done with this person I can’t have them in my life anymore so that’s where it comes to this statement first if it’s possible second as far as it depends on you this is when you have done everything in your power to reconcile or address an issue if it’s possible as far as it depends on me I’m gonna do all that I can to reconcile this with this person and if they will not reconcile with me then I may have to keep them in in arms length but I still love them and I still have love in my heart towards them there’s two differences here positional forgiveness and transactional forgiveness I have to remind myself of this all the time because I often catch myself questioning have I done all that I could have I done all like that’s what that that’s what that kid I mean he he went to jail or prison two different times came out two different times and and and bold and the second time I was right back believing that he’s gonna make it right this time and the same thing happened again and it was just it was hard but at the end of the day I wanted to know that I did all that I could did I do all that I that I can’t ’cause God loves him as much as he loves me and if it weren’t for Christ and what he’s done in my life I could very well be where this guy is at In fact I knew his background his upbringing was very rough and it’s like my heart I had compassion for him for that and God can redeem him and God can restore him but what I would see each time would be just not a full surrender to the Lord it was always one foot in one foot out and just some things you just wouldn’t listen to me on it’s like man you need to get that you can’t have that person in your life I wouldn’t be hanging around those guys oh it’s you know and he just wouldn’t listen so it’s like it was such a hard thing to know how to navigate so let me ask you this do you have a position of forgiveness towards anyone that’s hurt you in your life and tried to control you or manipulate you or even worse hurt someone that you love position there should always be a position of forgiveness where you hold love and compassion in your heart regardless of the status of the relationship which is referring to what he says here in verse 14 in Romans 12 going back a couple verses bless those who persecute you bless and do not curse them that is not an easy thing to do when someone has really hurt you or really hurt someone you love but we’re called to love these people you may not have the relationship restored you may still have this broken relationship but your heart is to see them restored and to see them come back to see that relationship restored and yet your content knowing that I’ve done all that I can do and you rest in that but your heart is to bless them and one way you bless them is you pray for you pray for him transactional forgiveness what is that that’s when wrongs are recognized this is really what we’re after when broken relationships happen when when you’re trying to live at peace with somebody and somebody hurts you or hurts somebody you love your goal is to experience reconciliation and the best way for that to happen is the way that we see model in scripture where you go to that person first and foremost and you seek to restore that relationship you go straight to them and if they’ve heard you and a very humble and gentle way you share with them what it was that they did ’cause they may not even know it and your goal is to restore and reconcile and hopefully prayerfully they respond apologetically and they wanna make it right and they and you move on and you are restored relationship and that is a miracle it doesn’t happen enough in this life praise God for that ’cause you followed his word and so you praise him and you give him all the glory and you say God you reconciled this relationship that was broken it’s like that that father in Jesus tells a story about the prodigal son the father is always waiting in fact when the sun is is far off and coming home they didn’t have cell phones the sun didn’t Texas dad said dad I’m on my way home and what’s happening the father is there waiting for his son he’s watching and his son comes and he runs to his son and embraces him that’s our heart our heart should be that of reconciliation and we want that to happen but many times church that doesn’t happen and so it’s not possible to live at peace but you still have a position of forgiveness in your heart towards that person and you are in a healthy place when you can leave the relationship but you truly do want that person to be blessed and to grow now lastly this is talking about living peaceably with people and dealing with conflict but what do you do with people that are like your enemy maybe you’ve tried to deal with that conflict and they responded out of hate like they raged against you and here’s the thing church God wants to save you from from destroying anything on your part in that relationship and so you cling to him and then when you cling to him sweetness comes out but when you don’t cling to him sourness comes out and Satan wants to use those those tension conversations those those frustrating times with somebody in your life where sour comes out and someone maybe even close to you becomes your enemy and that’s what Satan wants to do first Peter it says he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone whom to devour and you know what you know how he does it a lot of times through relationship oh he wants to devour you so that you despair what was it we just say Satan would lead us to despair you’re saying that I’m like that that goes right along with what I’m talking about here fact what he really wants to do it’s ’cause you to make some huge mistakes in a relationship OK where you lose it you say some things you shouldn’t have said you hurt that person and then you either despair or that you’re this terrible person and then you hurt this person in the relationship is broken and irreparable and and you are just terrible for for for ruining that relationship and it’s all on you as well saying wants to do he wants to cause you to despair or he wants you he wants to damn you to despair or wants a damn you to pride where you are like I didn’t do anything wrong that’s all on them and get you to focus completely on that other person problems and that other person’s mistakes and things that they have made and so that you feel pretty darn good about yourselves you know like I didn’t do anything wrong it’s totally them see pride or despair it’s he loves to do and he’ll destroy your life with those two things what does the scriptures teach well with our enemies we have love in our heart will seek to repent if we’ve done anything wrong so own your stuff own your stuff have you done that maybe there’s somebody in your life that that you have said some things you’ve done some things that you know deep down like God convicted you about you know it was wrong but you never actually asked that person for forgiveness you’ve never actually said hey you know I made some mistakes and I am so sorry and I hope that our relationship could be reconciled at some point and they may have done some crazy things right they may have done some crazy things you’re thinking but pastor you don’t know they have done this and this and this alright you can’t control that but you can’t control I’ve done everything in my power to reconcile if it’s possible with me I’ve done everything I’ve I’ve I’ve recognized what I did was wrong and they may not recognize what they did was wrong guess what the transaction has still not happened there is not there is not transactional reconciliation at that point but but you can carefully carefully you’re gonna have to be careful with that still have love in your heart towards that person and hope and pray that there is full transactional reconciliation and I believe in our relation I’ve seen from my life there is everything in between there’s some people that just can’t stand me they just do not like me because I said something in liked or whatever someone was probably times where I did something so it was like I just trying to follow God’s word and they don’t like me but they just don’t like me and it’s like I’ve tried everything and it’s not ever going to I’m never gonna be close to this person and I’m OK with that I’m OK with that ’cause I’ve done everything I could now there’s other situations where I knew that God put in my heart I need to ask this person for forgiveness for something I shouldn’t have done this I shouldn’t have said this shouldn’t have said this and I did do that and they they were like hey I forgive you and they did some things but I’m not going to say but you did this that’s not how apologies work right like God has to work on them I just let that happen I like God work on them and if they don’t ever repent then there’s not going to be a close relationship most likely there just isn’t that trust there it just isn’t that trust but we can still talk and then there are the ones where that full transaction happens in church in your marriages and with your kids that should happen a lot probably right that transactional stuff should happen quite a bit where you know hey I I said something just I I didn’t mean to say it that way and I didn’t mean how did you hear that did you hear but did you feel attacked by what I said I’m sorry you know that those kinds of things because what sane wants to do and he’s doing this in America in a big way he wants to destroy your family he wants your kids to be your enemies he wants your spouse to be your enemy and he will use that human nature without being connected to the vine to do it and he will destroy your life it’s just like with my professor at Moody said wow back he said if they did a playbook on you where would he hit you your weakness what is it where would he where would he destroy your life and he said if you think you can just coast through the Christian life and not stay connected to the vine he’s going to eat you for lunch man don’t forget he’s going to eat she’s gonna devour you that’s what he wants to do and biblically we cannot produce that fruit on our own so we need to stay connected to the vine that’s why Paul says work out your salvation work it out with fear and trembling knowing that you have an enemy that prowls around like a roaring lion seeking move hour so work it out how do you work out while I was saved by recognizing that I’m a Sinner and Jesus forgave me so how am I gonna grow feel like I’m pretty hot stuff like I’m better than everybody else right if I do that then I can never repent to anybody I can never recognize when I made a mistake no no I stay humble I say Lord Lord I’m still still living in this broken body of mine help me help me to love people and to love my enemies ’cause man I can’t do it on my own so first own your stuff with your enemies love your enemies own your stuff then bless your enemy Jesus says in Matthew chapter 5 verse 43 through 45 he says this you have heard that it was said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy but I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven and he ends this section with you therefore must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect oh you see what he’s doing he’s talking to the Jewish people who have been duped by the Pharisees to think that they could hold up the law and so they don’t need someone to save them from their sins they thought they had it all figured out I’ve never killed anybody juice have you hated someone your heart you killed him in your heart oh and by the way if you really want to be righteous you wanna be like me the king of kings who came down to love and died for his enemies you wanna you wanna be right before God you gotta love your entities and pray for those who persecute guys I’m terrible at that on my own like I want justice I want to do everything if I want to have a TJ Holmes way I do everything to reconcile with somebody everything I could and then when they won’t reconcile with me and they become my enemy to just may I I want them to be miserable I want them to have bad things happen in their life that’s cursing in my heart isn’t that sad that’s what I am apart from Christ but Christ is constantly like you better pray for that person you’re starting to have some bitterness in your heart and you need to pray for that person and you need to have love in your heart for that person and so it is only by God’s grace and his his Holy Spirit that his his love one way that his Holy Spirit poured out my heart is nothing he comfort me but he reminds me of what I need to do at times and that is a comfort ’cause that doesn’t come from me that comes from him he’s reminding me how to love this enemy in my life that has hurt someone that I that I love yes so let’s do that church let’s bless our enemies now lastly keep burning coals on his head what in the world this phrase seems completely out of place for the 21st century reader we’re like OK so you’d love love love love love love at the end overcome evil with good well how is that if my whole intention of my heart I thought God saw the heart and if my whole intention of the heart is to make them miserable and to harm them place like deep down I want them to be harmed someone do good things to you know like is that what he’s referring to here not by any means first so how do we know that first look at the way it is written On the contrary he says well On the contrary of what well On the contrary of seeking vengeance of wanting to harm that person so instead of wanting to harm that person he says do good to them and you heat burning coals on their head So what does that mean if I’m not supposed to have vengeance towards them but I’m supposed to heat burning coals On the contrary how is that even contrary a deep study into how the 1st century audience would have heard this will help you understand I this was really cool as I was studying this I always thought that this meant you know I felt like the heart of God and the heart of Jesus was you know the the heaping of burning coals was making them feel they would feel guilty for what they did because you’re so loving towards them and then they would be like man I could when I apologize to them maybe I just did one little thing wrong that it’s like I should have said that may be a little different and it’s like man I don’t I didn’t do anything wrong no but maybe I could love them by by recognizing the one thing that I did and they may have done 100 things to me and I’m not going to say anything about what they said hoping that the Holy Spirit will convict them and they will feel sorrow in their heart and they will feel Pennant and they will want to reconcile with me and my whole goal in that is reconciliation where we can be close again or maybe we never work close and we I want to be that with that person and I always thought the heart of that was was there but there was no way to really prove it in the text and well how do you prove something like this how do you know well you don’t take it literally I love it one commentator said he said this he said um it’s almost it’s almost kinda comical commentator Leon Morris he said referring to the heaping of burning coals on his head a most unlikely procedure is taken literally thought it was hilarious like like he had just said that jokingly you know just makes me laugh almost unlikely procedure taken literally and that is very true when you’re when you’re studying the word of God here’s here’s one way to help you study the word of God if the ’cause it’s always hard to separate the figurative from the literal how do you separate those well one principle for that yes you can call you can contact all these other principles one principle is if it is absurd or involves something wrong then it’s obviously figurative it’s not literal it’s not being to be taken literally like when Jesus said lop off your hand gouge out your eye did he mean literal well that’s absurd and if you love off one I still can last with the other I so obviously he’s not referring to cut off her hand you hear something crazy this side here this this is crazy story but this this this is this is an example for this and the reason why I show this because when people take scripture out of context and not the way it was meant to be taken they can do some crazy stuff so bring it up calls however you won’t believe what’s going on in my house this lady was walking up this hill right by her house holding her arm and it’s just blood pouring everywhere her hand was cut off there’s no hand she’s just holding her arm and she said the lady was just walking, as collective as can be and she had two little kids behind her she’s walking up the hill somebody eventually calls the ambulance I Brianna was about two and then somebody else did the ambulance comes she sees the ambulance come and brain isn’t talking to somebody one of the policemen repair Max which is probably not supposed to say this stuff but they just said it they told her she’s like what happened the guy said I said she cut it off what she said the the paramedic or whoever it was that old brainless said when we asked her where her hand was she said God doesn’t want you to know that what I don’t know exactly what happened but it can be assumed maybe she heard that verse that’s the only thing in mind maybe she heard that verse in scripture whereas like cut off your hand gouge out your eye maybe she did something wrong with one of her hands she hurt one of her I don’t know and she cut off her hand because she took that literally like that’s what people can do some crazy stuff especially if they’re little you know but that that’s an example of how you can’t take something literally in scripture and how do you know when to separate the literal from figurative when the literal is absurd when it’s absolutely absurd you don’t take your literally and so you’re not gonna go heaping burning coals in somebody’s head well So what what is being men here a little study into the culture another thing that will help you is you look into the culture so the Gyptian culture of the time helps us understand this William Clawson a commentator said this and points to what Paul is pointing to here is a custom in the Egyptian literature whereby a penitent person carried coals of fire in a bowl where they were they they knew that they were wrong about something and they would carry it was a symbol that they were guilty and they were accepting their guilt and you just think like he even takes it even a step further and it’s not even carrying the ball it’s heaping it on their head I don’t know if you ever had somebody come up to you and you know you’ve done some things pretty You know you you gotta do a fight with them you know and you said some things you shouldn’t have said you feel bad about it and they come to you and apologize for what they did and all along you’ve been thinking there the jerk and now you really feel like a jerk like I I felt that way if you ever happen you’re like man and then immediately usually you’re like you know what I am very sorry for what I did it’s like they are taking that that that guilt they’re accepting it and in the end that’s a good thing because it brings about reconciliation so you see the whole so that fits that trans that that interpretation of this this phrase fits with the context where you’re willing to bless your enemies you’re wanting to reconcile your wanting to love your enemies you’re wanting to live peaceably with everyone so do good to them when you do good to them they’re gonna feel some acceptance for what they did and then you can reconcile that relationship and so church that is what this is saying and that is what God how God wants us to treat our enemies and those who have hurt us may we may we love them in such a way that Christ is glorified because he has loved us deeper than we could ever love other people one thing I always like to say along these lines is I always struggle with forgiving people for when they do something that I would not do there’s some sins that I’m guilty of that I could see myself doing and then there are other things and it’s like I would never do that why would they do that that is when it’s really hard for me to give forgive people because I can’t put myself in their shoes so much but I’m supposed to forgive as Christ is forgiven me do you think Christ can put himself in our shoes in the sense of he’s like oh I know it’s like I’ve done all that stuff and I understand so I’ll forgive you absolutely not right he who was with alsin became sin and took on our sin to restore us and reconcile us wow he can’t he didn’t do what we did he can identify with the consequences of sin ’cause he took it on himself on the cross but you guys we’re supposed to forgive people the same way not we may not understand why somebody did something and I tried to sometimes I sit there well how does this logically why would they do this sometimes you just don’t even try to figure it out why they did it don’t even try to figure it out just forgive because that’s what God does for us and love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and live peaceably as far as it depends on you and church if you can’t then you’ve done everything sleep well sleep well don’t let the enemy drive you to despair if you’ve done all that you can trust the Lord and lean on him and let him fill you up and just know that you’ve done all you can and and live peaceably let’s close with some prayer so we sing that we’re gonna sing this last song the goodness of God I just think of how good God is to us you think of all the things as we sing this song I want you to encourage you to think of all the things that you’ve done in your life that God knows that you’ve done that he’s forgiven you trump and made that connection to the vine just fill your heart in such a way that it spills over to other people I mean he get the glory father we thank you that you are so good to us you’re so good that you’re it’s worthy to sing about of all the things that the world sings about that they think is good there’s nothing better than to sing to your glory there’s nothing better to sing about how good of a God you are so Lord I pray that your goodness will be seen through and how we love other people how we forgive and how we live free of bitterness and Lord we recognize just as with with you you you desire that none should perish but many do or we should have that same heart our desire is that we would have peace with everyone but there would be people that we can’t have peace with and so Lord we rest in you in that we give that to you as well your name Amen

Used with permission from Rodney Harrier.

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