Overcome Evil with Good

love stops hate

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, 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” (Rom. 12:17-21).

In this day of constant lawsuits and incessant demands for legal rights, Paul’s command sounds almost impossible, but these verses summarize the core of Christian living. If we love someone the way Christ loves us, we will be willing to forgive. If we have experienced God’s grace, we will want to pass it on to others.

This command relates primarily to believers’ relationships with unbelievers. The Old Testament principle of justice was “eye for eye” (Ex. 21:24), but we are told, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil… live at peace with everyone.” Recognizing that limits exist, however, Paul includes the words, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you” (v. 18). Harmony with others may not always be achievable, but believers should not be responsible for that lack of peace (Matt. 5:9).

Paul exhorts us not to take revenge after we are misused. Rather, we should leave room for God’s wrath. God has promised to avenge His people: “It is Mine to avenge, I will repay” (Deut. 32:35; Heb. 10:30). David’s refusal to kill Saul on two occasions when it seemed God had delivered Saul into David’s hands is a classic biblical example of this principle.

When someone hurts us deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, Paul says to forgive him.In light of God’s promise to execute vengeance, we are to feed our enemy and quench his thirst—in short, respond to his evil with Christian love.By giving our enemy a drink, we are not excusing his misdeeds; rather, we are recognizing him, forgiving him, and loving him in spite of his sins—just as Christ does for us.

Grace is undeserved favor. Even if our enemy never repents, forgiving him will free us of a heavy load of anger, resentment, and bitterness.Jesus wants us to pray for those who hurt us (Mt. 5:44). By returning evil with good, we are acting as Christ did to us and trusting God to be the final judge.

Read more in my book, Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living.



  1. It is very True Pastor Joe, we are to Love our enemies and forgive them even when they provoke us to anger and if they still claim we are their enemy or show it, we don’t view them as one, instead we pray for them and do good to them, even making the opportunity to do so. But we are to rebuke those in the Church who hurt us, as you can see in the Scripture below or they will go on doing it without a conscience of the wrong that they are doing and so Satan will get a foothold.

    Luke 17:3-5 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

    If our enemies don’t repent, we still forgive them as you shared Pastor Joe, not to hurts us but they can’t receive our forgiveness until they do repent and this is the same with God, He chose to forgive us by sending Jesus to Redeem us and set us free from the slavery of sin (see below) but if there is no True heart repentance we can’t receive it, because repentance shows we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, (John 3:18-19) How do we know if there has been heart repentance, we will show there has been.

    John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    Romans 6:22-23 But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto Holiness and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is Eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    John 8:31-33 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed and ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.

    Christian Love from both of us – Anne.

  2. Reblogged this on A Christian Warrior and commented:
    A great blog and a deep and true thought.
    We were looking at this yesterday in Cell Group.

    “If we love someone the way Christ loves us, we will be willing to forgive. If we have experienced God’s grace, we will want to pass it on to others.”

    Yes its hard, but that is why we have Jesus and the Spirit to help us.
    Our unforgivness hurts no one but us, the people who hurt us do not care.
    Doing good to them, shames them even if they do not admit it. Jesus does good for us even when we hurt Him, as followers we must do the same.

  3. Hi Joe,
    It is my understanding that “heaping coals of fire on someone’s head” is an Orientalism that refers to the person with the last watch of the morning carrying coals from the fire in the center of the village to other homes to use to start their fires. The person carrying the coals in a clay pot is warmed by the pot on their heads and in turn is warming other villager’s homes.

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