Quench the Thirst of Your Enemy 

Romans 12.19–21 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 10, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 


  1. People should not dislike us because of our difficult ways. 
    1. To have enemies is good, 
    2. if because of our righteousness someone opposes us.

      26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
      For so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
      (Luke 6.26)


  1. Jesus Loved His Enemies 
    1. By loving His enemies He gained innumerable friends.
      1. Some were not converted, but 
      2. Jesus has gained so much by loving His enemies. 
    2. Let us learn from Him that if we love our enemies, 
      1. we will not lose, but 
      2. we will win, 
        1. even win a friend. 
  2. Making Our enemies Our Friends 
    1. Someone said that Abraham Lincoln got rid of his enemies by making them his friends. 
    2. Some quotes:

      “A merely fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished” (Schiller, The New Dictionary of Thoughts, p. 174).

      “The fine and noble way to destroy a foe, is not to kill him; with kindness you may so change him that he shall cease to be so; then he’s slain” (Aleyn, The New Dictionary of Thoughts, p. 174).

      “An enemy is a danger, but the danger is not what he can do to you. It is what he makes you do. If he fills you with envy, malice, hatred and all uncharitableness, he has done you real harm. But you can prevent that. Pray for him. If you say you cannot trust him, then watch and pray. But you cannot hate a man you pray for” (E. S. Waterhouse, Sourcebook for Speakers, pp. 137–138).

      “It is much safer to reconcile an enemy than to conquer him; victory may deprive him of his poison, but reconciliation of his will” (Feltham, The New Dictionary of Thoughts , p. 173).

      “Our worst enemies are those we carry about with us in our own hearts. Adam fell in Paradise…while Lot continued righteous in Sodom” (The New Dictionary of Thoughts, p. 173).

      The poet, Tasso, upon receiving reports from friends that a certain enemy was spreading gossip about him, observed: “I am not disturbed. How much better it is that he speak ill of me to all the world than that all the world should speak ill of me to him” (Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, number 940).
      1. Generally it is the case that our friends far outnumber our enemies.
      2. Yet we can become so focused on our enemies that they run our lives.
        1. The power of an enemy to control us is seen 
        2. when we think nothing but of the enemy. 
    3. Proverbs 16 shows something else 
      1. that is critical in making our enemies our friends, or 
      2. at least in having a peaceful co-existence with our enemies:

        7 When a man’s ways please the LORD,
        He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
        (Proverbs 16.7)
    4. According to Romans 12 we should attempt to live in peace with all people:

      18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men  (Romans 12.18).
  3. Respond to an Enemy in God’s Way 
    1. Someone takes revenge on us: 
      1. Our natural way is to avenge ourselves, 
        1. to punish the one trying to hurt us, and possibly 
        2. to hurt him more to make him sorry that he ever tried to hurt us. 
      2. Romans 12.19–21 reveals God’s way for us to respond:

        19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
      3. Consider these words of wisdom:

        “If you tend to your work, and let your enemy alone, someone will come along some day, and do him up for you” (Edgar Watson Howe, Sourcebook for Speakers, p. 138).
        1. This was David’s attitude toward Saul. 
        2. He left Saul alone and another took him down. 
    2. An enemy prospers: 
      1. Our natural way is to envy him and 
        1. to wonder how God could let that person prosper 
        2. after the evil that they have done. 
      2. Romans 2.4 makes us realize 
        1. that God’s way is to consider what will happen to that person, and 
        2. to realize that even as God’s goodness has changed us, so it can change an enemy:

          4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
    3. An enemy has problems: 
      1. Proverbs 24.17–18 rebukes what tends to be our natural way:

        17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
        And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
        18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him,
        And He turn away His wrath from him.
      2. Remember from Romans 12.20 
        1. that God’s way is for us to feed our enemy when he is hungry and 
        2. to give him a drink if he is thirsty, 
          1. rather than rejoicing in our enemies troubles 
          2. we should help him overcome them. 
  4. Matthew 5.43–48 [The classic text on loving enemies].

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5.43–48).
    1. Luke 6.27–36 is also a classic text. Here is more on what our Lord taught:

      27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. 32 But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
    2. What is meant by having love for your enemy? 
      1. We often restrict love to good feelings, 
        1. “I feel good toward you, or you make me feel good, therefore I love you.” 
        2. Perhaps this is why so many people have trouble in their relationships.
          1. One moment the feelings are good, so we love. 
          2. The next moment the feelings are bad, so we do not love. 
            1. Feelings can come from love, but 
            2. it should not necessarily be that love comes from feelings. 
      2. We are commanded in Scripture to love every person. 
        1. Do we feel good toward enemies? 
        2. Do enemies make us feel good? 
      3. Biblical love, or more specifically 
        1. the love that we are to have for enemies 
        2. is the kind of love that seeks the welfare of others. 
          1. It does not work ill toward any person. 
          2. It looks for opportunities to do good for all, even for an enemy. 
    3. How love for an enemy is carried out: 
      1. Bless those who curse you. 
      2. Do good to those who hate you.

        “It was wont to be said of Cranmer: If you would be sure to have Cranmer do you a good turn, you must do him some ill; for, though he loved to do good to all, yet especially he would watch for opportunity to do good to such as had wronged him” (1000 Acts and Facts, p. 72).
      3. Pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you. 
        1. This is where we seek the welfare of that person. 
        2. It is hard to hate someone for whom we pray. 
    4. Follow the example of God.
      1. Romans 10.6–10 gives the example of God, and of course 
        1. it includes Christ Himself and 
        2. if we hope to live with God and His blessed Son, then 
          1. we have to be like them, 
          2. even in how we treat our enemies:

            6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
        3. Even before He died He prayed for the forgiveness of His executioners. 
        4. Have any of us ever had greater enemies than the Lord had? 
          1. Have we all not been the enemies of God at one time? 
          2. Here is the key to loving your enemies: Remember Christ. 
      2. During the Revolutionary War 
        1. there lived in Pennsylvania a [preacher] by the name of Peter Miller. 
        2. Although Miller was greatly loved by everyone in the community, 
          1. there was one man who lived near the church [building] 
          2. who hated him and had earned an unenviable reputation for his abuse of the minister. 
            1. This man was not only a hater of the church, but 
            2. it also turned out that he was a traitor to his country, and was convicted of treason and sentenced to death. 
        3. The trial was conducted in Philadelphia, and 
          1. no sooner did Miller hear of it 
          2. than he set out on foot to visit General Washington and 
            1. interced for the man’s life. 
            2. But Washington told him, “I’m sorry that I cannot grant your request for your friend.” 
        4. “Friend!” Miller cried. “Why, that man is the worst enemy I have in the world!”
        5. “What?” the general exclaimed in surprise. “Have you walked sixty miles to save the life of an enemy? That, in my judgment, puts the matter in a different light. I will grant him a pardon for your sake.” 
        6. The pardon was made out and signed by General Washington, and Miller proceeded at once on foot to a place fifteen miles distant where the execution was scheduled to take place that afternoon. He arrived just as the man was being carried to the scaffold, and when he saw Miller hurrying toward the place, remarked, “There is old Peter Miller. He has walked all the way from Ephrata to have his revenge gratified today by seeing me hung.” But scarcely had he spoken the words when Miller pushed his way through to the condemned man and handed him the pardon that saved his life (Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, number 1768). 
      3. A religion of God:

        “To love an enemy is the distinguished characteristic of a religion which is not of man but of God. It could be delivered as a precept, only by him who lived and died to establish it by his example” (The New Dictionary of Thoughts, p. 173).
  5. Learn from Your Enemies 
    1. Sometimes they are right. 
    2. What they have done to you maybe wrong, but 
      1. their work against you shows what kind of person you are, 
      2. hence you will see areas of improvement.

        “Observe your enemies, for they first find out your faults” (Antisthenes, The New Dictionary of Thoughts, p. 173).


  1. Enemies give us an opportunity to let our Christianity shine.