If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Paul finishes this chapter of Romans with his final admonition for the Christian, we are to do good and not evil. We are to show kindness with mercy and not revenge. We are to look out for the welfare of others, rather than ourselves. Paul is calling us to live in harmony with all people. However, knowing that this will not always be possible. There will be times when no matter what we do or say people will not be at peace with us. And it is during these times, we are called not to seek revenge nor retaliation, but rather seek out what is best for all involved. This can be especially challenging today in a secular society where feelings and emotions are quickly replacing right and wrong. Where how we feel about our actions is considered more important than whether what we did was right or wrong. However, despite this we are called to do what is right for one another without having our own best interest at heart.
Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed them, if they are thirsty, give them something to drink, if they are naked, clothe them and if they are in need help them. For Christ Jesus did the same for us when people reviled Him, struck Him and sent Him to death. And because He did that for us, the way is clear for you and me to spend eternity by His side, and in His service. Paul closes with a reference to “heaping coals of fire” upon their heads. Given the context of the chapter and the book this most likely refers to your good deeds bringing about a change of heart for your enemies, invoking shame and embarrassment for their actions. There was an ancient Egyptian practice of carrying hot pans of coal on one’s head-dress to outwardly represent the burning pain of shame and guilt. This was meant to signify repentance because of bad behavior or misconduct. In addition, there was another practice of wrapping warmed coals into your head-dress in order to keep you warm on a cold night. In either case the message is clear, we are to do good to all people, and let God do His work of transformation in their hearts.