Heaping Coals of Fire
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. ~Romans 12:20
During the Bible times, almost everything was carried on the head: water jars, baskets of fruit or vegetables, or any other article. Those carrying the burden rarely touched it with their hands, and they walked through crowded streets and lanes with perfect ease. In many homes, the only fire that they kept was in a brazier, which they used for simple cooking as well as for warmth. They planned to always keep it burning. If it should go out, some member of the family would take the brazier to a neighbor’s house to borrow fire. If her neighbor was a generous woman, she would heap the brazier full of coals. To feed an enemy and give him drink was like heaping the empty brazier with live coals, which meant food, warmth, and almost life itself to the person or home needing it. It was the symbol of finest generosity. This morning, we see a powerful practice that can help when we have conflict with others.
We see the problem.
Paul is addressing Christians and families that are having relational conflict. The conflicts involved finger pointing and blame. Tempers flared, feelings were hurt, and the parties became adversarial to each other. Both parties considered the other party an enemy. When a relationship gets to that stage, there is hostility. Where there is hostility, one or both parties seek retaliation or revenge for the hurt that they feel was inflicted on them. Where there are adversarial relationships, there is confusion and every evil work. The spirit driving this is earthly, sensual, and devilish.
We see the prescription.
Paul gives us a proven Bible remedy. He is exhorting us to seek reconciliation with our enemy by showing kindness and grace to him. He uses the common practice of heaping coals of fire on one’s head to emphasize how we can remedy relationships that are strained and torn apart. The first thing we must do is get our heart right. We must not give place to vengeance. Retaliation must not enter our thought process. Second, we must leave revenge to the Lord. God takes care of vindicating us when we have been wronged. Third, we must live peaceably with all men.
We see the proactive.
We are exhorted to be proactive and not reactive when we find ourselves in an adversarial relationship. Look for ways to show kindness: give the enemy food and take care of an entire meal. Buy him groceries. We have a responsibility to take initiative in trying to reconcile with someone who has a conflict with us. Being proactive means we should pray for our enemy. Being proactive means we must do what others would not do: that is, exercise extreme care and kindness.
We see the principle.
Heaping coals of fire on the head of our enemy tells him that we really want things to be right. We are called to go out of our way, humble ourselves, and without reservation, find ways to be generous, helpful, and kind to those who have conflict with us. We must be the one seeking reconciliation. Instead of letting a bad situation get worse, we must do everything that we can to turn it around in the right direction. Instead of being overcome by evil, we overcome evil with good when we heap these coals of fire. Do you have a conflict that is stressing you out? Try heaping coals of fire on his head, and let the Lord use the ministry of kindness to change hearts.
Have a reconciling God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Leviticus 8-10