Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”
Our Bible verse for today: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “This is not a backhanded way of getting even.”
Yesterday I told you the story about the guy who made an unkind remark about my new book and how, despite my initial urge to respond in-kind with an insult of my own, I simply thanked him for his response and wished him a good day. It took a little restraint on my part to do that, but I have to admit there was also some satisfaction for being the adult and responding to an insult with a blessing.
In Proverbs 25:21-22 Solomon referred to blessing an adversary as “heaping burning coals on his head”. This is a colorful and somewhat humorous way for God to remind us to be nice to others. These two verses are simply part of a larger body of literature, found throughout both the Old and New Testaments, where God calls us to be bigger and better people than those who do not know Him. But what does Solomon mean by “heaping burning coals on his head”?
The image of burning coals being dumped over the other person’s head is meant to picture a hot sense of shame washing over the person from head to toe, as they realize how immature and inappropriate their own words were by comparison to yours. This is a subtle and kind way of shaming the other person into a sense of repentance. It’s about helping them to grow. God is pleased with us when we use our situations to demonstrate kindness that helps others to grow.
The idea here is that we don’t return evil with evil, instead we respond to an insult with a word of blessing. This is not so we can have some smug sense of superiority, but so we can help the other person to see how a godly man or woman responds when they have been insulted or dealt with unfairly. This is so others can see our good example and be influenced by it.
Love for God and for others sometimes requires us to swallow our pride, bite our tongue, and speak words of blessing when we would really rather give the person a little of their own medicine. So go ahead and heap burning coals on his head. But do it for the right reason and with the right attitude. This is not a backhanded way of getting even. It’s a kind attempt to help them repent and grow.