“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
I remembered this verse recently in conversations regarding folk making my life difficult; I used to apply this very badly as a young Christian, weilding it as a weapon of vengeance. I must confess there is still a side in me that loves being nice to those who are not nice; such as that person who ignores me will suddenly find me smiling at them and engaging them in conversation. Sometimes it works well and in other times it doesn’t work at all. This is “heaping burning coals on someone.”
The above verse is a quote from Proverbs 25:21-22 in the Old Testament, and is further elaborated upon by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44. The key word used here is “love” meaning that our actions towards those who hurt us are to be done in love, rather than in vengeance. This points to our primary motivation being to share God’s love with those who ignore us, in such a way to display His love which may lead them to repentance for sin they have committed. Burning coals poured on our head would be painful, illustrating the pain of having one’s sin exposed by someones kindness to us whom we have mistreated. It is the kindness of Almighty God working through His people in such circumstances that lead sinners to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Dear reader, you will be glad to know that I have matured in faith such that I no longer weild His Word as a weapon on those who hurt me. I now love being kind to folks because I know it is commanded in love by Jesus, as is His command to also pray for them. If my kindness makes them uncomfortable unto repentance that is a victory for the love of God in a sinful world. Do you have such folk in your life, and do you avoid them? I encourage you brethren to “heap burning coals on their head” in love, and pray for them too.