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
Has anyone ever given you the advice that you should “kill them with kindness”? It is a catchy phrase, but is it true? We should always aim to be kind to our enemies, but does this proverb teach that we should be kind to our enemies as a way of getting back at them? Certainly not. In the Ancient Near East, around the time that this proverb was written, the phrase to “heap burning coals on someone’s head” meant to care for someone’s physical needs. This was usually done by inviting them into their home and keeping them warm and well fed.
In Matthew 5, Jesus taught that we ought to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In this passage Jesus was not saying that we should only love our enemies externally, while secretly harboring anger against them in our hearts. When he commanded us to love them, he really meant that we should love them!
So, Jesus taught us to love our enemies and today’s proverb says that we should do this by inviting them into our homes and taking care of them. This is a kind of radical hospitality that would seem completely out of place in our culture. Yet, the Lord says that there is a reward for demonstrating this kind of love! Now I don’t know what kind of reward that is, but I think it is safe to assume that God gives the best kinds of rewards.
Is there anyone in your life who you are at odds with? Maybe it is time to let go of the anger and resentment you feel, and begin to pray for those who may have wronged you. If possible, maybe you could even invite them over for dinner as a sign of forgiveness and a step towards restoration.
Father God, thank you for being the perfect example of what it means to love your enemies. Even as you hung on the cross you forgave those you put you there. Not only that but you also forgave me. Help me to love others as you love them and give me the grace I need to forgive those who have wronged me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
– Cameron Ford