Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

heap coals of fire on his head




The New Testament says some astounding things about human relationships. It all begins with Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  


Matthew 5: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.


Matthew 5: 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;


Then in the Garden of Gethsemane when Peter uses violence in an attempt to protect him, Jesus admonish Peter and warns that violence begets violence


Matthew 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.


Later in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 25:44-46)  Jesus describes a judgment according to works wherein approval is a function of one’s treatment of the lowly and downtrodden.


In all of these instances, the instructions of Jesus stand in stark contrast to both the natural tendencies of man and the teachings of Christian Orthodoxy. Violence in the pursuit of righteousness has been the church sanctioned mode of operation for all of its history. And according to their doctrine we focus our religious attention on God directly or perhaps through divinely appointed surrogates in the church, but rarely by attention to the needs of lowly, sinful men.


After Jesus we encounter similar words from the apostle Paul.

In Romans 12:19-21 we read “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


One can perhaps come away from these words of Paul with the idea that Christians should leave the necessary violence up to God, since He plans to heap some hot coals on the evil, disbeliever. Maybe by restraining ourselves we insure an even worse punishment on those who we view a wicked. Avoid personal evil so God can be more vengeful than otherwise. Regardless of how one views any future divine judgments, we rarely hear anything from the church about the evil of the tit for tat response to evil. In fact, just the opposite is the norm. The insistent church message is that Christians are at war with the world, which equates to most of humanity. Wars are about violence and ruthlessness, the use of necessary evil to oppose another’s evil. Such repudiates both Jesus and Paul.


I equate  the “coals of fire” in Paul’s admonition to the inevitable consequences of the law of reaping and sowing- Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Neither God nor I need to exact vengeance. By letting nature take its course without retaliation, the Christian amplifies the life lessons associated with the law of reaping and sowing by establishing a stark contrast with the usual revenge mindedness of others.