Proverbs 25:21-22 – “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” NKJV
It is a difficult thing in the realm of human emotions to extend a hand of love to someone who has set out to hurt you or has hurt you. I have had Church people tell me, “I don’t get mad I get even.” I had a preacher tell me, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me three times and I’ll destroy you.” He felt that he was following the directive of the Lord to turn the other cheek and once he had turned both cheeks, he was at liberty to take matters into his own hand and respond in kind. Somehow, I find that incompatible with the overall directives of the LORD and the Bible.
Here we are instructed to feed a hungry enemy and give water to a thirsty enemy. I can tell you from experience that is often difficult. This can be expanded beyond the basic needs of food and drink. Jesus told us to love our enemies. I hear Christians say, “I love them, but I don’t like them and want nothing to do with them.” I have often wondered if I can truly love someone I truly do not like and abhor their presence. Some have demonstrated their vileness and willingness to harm those they find in need. How do we respond? How did Jesus respond to those who sought his death?
The second portion of this is fascinating. I recall a dear old saint telling me that by doing the first part of this directive we got our pound of flesh because God would burn them up as a result. As a young minister, I found that a very difficult interpretation for that would seem to indicate that God was authorizing vengeance and retaliation. I know the Old Testament taught an eye for an eye but when we get to the New Testament, we find our LORD instructing us to love our neighbors and love those who sought our hurt. I sought the LORD to better understand.
Let me suggest that when we view the Day of Atonement process the high priest would take his censer, fill it with coals of fire, put incense on it and the result was a sweet-smelling aroma. As I contemplated that the thought that came to mind is that the coals of fire are the conviction of the Holy Spirit and when we place the incense of acts of love and kindness even to an enemy there is a sweet aroma that rises. It may not be immediate and the heart could be so hard it never happens but the likely result is that our acts will open the door for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and burn inside the heart of that one deemed an enemy. It will produce a condition like that of Paul on the Damascus Road where Jesus said, “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”
If we give blow for blow, reviling for reviling, insult for insult we drive a wedge that will make it difficult to overcome. However, if in the process of my hurt we extend the kindness, graciousness, and love of Christ we provide the LORD with a pathway to bring conviction to the heart. Our act of kindness and Christian charity will burn in the heart and mind of that one. They may view us as weak and laugh at our acts, but it will be difficult for them to totally dismiss our response.
God bless you as you go through this day!