‘If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you.’ Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV).
The world’s way of retaliation looks very different to this doesn’t it? Yet this is how Jesus taught us to behave towards those who do us wrong. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, ‘But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’
By telling us not to retaliate, Jesus keeps us from taking the law into our own hands. By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good. Finally, by returning good for evil, we are acknowledging God as the one who will make things right and trusting Him to be the judge.
So if our enemy is hungry, we can buy him or her a meal. If he or she is thirsty we can give them something to drink. We can win over those who are hurtful or belittle us by showing kindness and consideration. Also we can respond to them in exactly the opposite way that they are expecting.
We can surprise those who are unkind to us with generosity and loving acts: catch them off guard and we may soon win over a new friend. Our surprising generosity may awaken their conscience. Their heart may be moved and their shame exposed. This is what it means to heap burning coals upon their head. And in doing so God will reward us with His favor.
‘Father, this is not an easy thing to do to those who have hurt me. But I want to look at the offender in the same loving way that you do. Help me to do that, please Jesus and show me how to overcome evil with good. Thank you.’
In Jesus’ Mighty Name,
By giving our enemy a meal or a drink, we are not excusing their misdeeds. We are instead, recognizing them as a person who is made in the image of God, who is still to be valued and loved and forgiven in spite of their sins, just as Christ loves us and forgives us.
Who do we know that is bringing us grief and causing us pain just now? Can we reach out to heap burning coals on their head as this proverb suggests? In what practical way might we be able to do that for another?
Be Greatly Blessed!