Burning Coals

What does it mean to heap burning coals on someone’s head?

Proverbs 25:21-22, If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;

And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;

For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,

And the Lord will reward you.

I interpret this to mean that when someone is really mean to you and shows animosity towards you, that you must not return those feelings or actions. As it says here, “If he is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” Don’t do to him what he has done to you. Just imagine this, a colleague was dishonest and stole a lot of money from the firm you both worked for. The dishonesty was detected and there was an investigation. All the evidence pointed to you. This colleague had planted evidence to make you look guilty and you had no means of disproving it or of defending yourself. There is a long, stressful court case and you end up going to prison. After seven long years behind bars you are released and have to start building a life for yourself. Your family shunned you and you obviously don’t have a job to go back to. You find odd jobs to do and eventually start your own garden services business. You do really well. One day as you are on your way home you see a man lying face down in the gutter next to the road. It looks like he’s been injured so you stop your vehicle, and get out to try and help. You turn the man face up and you see that it’s the colleague who framed you. He is bleeding profusely from a chest wound. What do you do? Do you leave him there and pretend you know nothing about it? Do you call it blind justice and walk away, or do you call on your first aid experience and phone an ambulance?

Most of us will never face such a serious decision, but is it any different from the decision of greeting someone who has been gossiping about you? People who have wronged you, expect you to react the same way they treated you. If you show them compassion it will result in their embarrassment. Burning coals will be heaped on his head.

Look what the good Samaritan did.  The Jews, hated Samaritans to such a degree that they destroyed the Samaritans’ temple on Mount Gerizim. Therefore the injured man, being a Jew, was very definitely the Samaritan’s enemy. The Samaritan would have been justified in passing by the injured Jew because of their history of enmity. But instead of passing by, like the religious Jews had, he stopped, helped him, took him to an inn where he could recover and even paid his expenses. This is in Luke 10:25-29.

What do you have to have inside of you to be able to do this? What kind of love and kindness must reside inside of you to be able to look past the faults of others and past the offences you have taken, to step out and do what we have been commanded to do? You have to have the love of Jesus in your heart. 150%. You have to be so secure in the knowledge of who you are and who your Father is, that you don’t let the actions of people confuse or condemn you. You have to know that you are a child of the most high God and that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever change that. That’s who you have to be. Your identity must be rooted in Jesus and nothing and nobody must be able to shake that. The burning coals will be on your enemies head, but the overcomers crown will be on yours.

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