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Hot Coals and a Warm Heart

Topics:   revenge    love    judgment    grace   

Posted by Rod Neufeld on June 28, 2016

“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 KJV

Hot coals on your enemies HEAD! That doesn’t sound very loving!

Bottom line, no matter how hard you try you will always find someone that doesn’t like you for one reason or other. You may never know the reason, even if there ever is one. It is sad that it happens and even worse when it happens in family. Something I see more and more of everyday.

When I first heard this piece of scripture I could not for the life of me truly understand it. I got part of it but not all, or at least a more complete understanding. The hot coals thing really threw me; it just didn’t make sense in a loving sort of way. How can heaping coals of fire on someone’s head be a Christian thing to do? The metaphor that is used just seemed so negative until you really dig in and see how people react to true kindness and love.

At first glance it would seem that you are really sticking it to them and that it really burns. Again, this is not consistent with scripture, especially when you read the previous line for context.

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19 KJV

So, we don’t need to “stick it to our enemies”. In fact, we are told quite the opposite. Jesus says: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matthew 5:43-44 KJV

So what’s with the coals of fire?

I see it this way: when you show kindness to someone that considers you an enemy there are two possible outcomes.

1. They areso hardened that it turns your genuine kindness into a scathing insult. It burns them inside causing an even greater amount of anger or hatred towards you (hot coals). This is fuelled by pride. If they turn to kindness then they “lose”, so to speak. They feel because they didn’t act first or some other nonsense it means you stuck it to them. Unfortunately, so often this becomes a “kicking the dust off your sandals” situation (Matthew 10:14-15). It shouldn’t turn out that way. Again, you may never win over all who despise or dislike you.

2. The desired outcome: they are overwhelmed at your kindness in the face of their hatred that it burns their conscience in a way that causes a reflection (hot coals). Humility and humbleness awaken and the searing burns the pride, causing it to yield to that which is right and good. I believe that is the desired outcome that God wants for us:

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 KJV

*Please note: there are many possible outcomes. In the end it only goes either one way or the
other, these are the extremes of all possible outcomes.

This are so very important to “THE CHURCH”, the body of believers in Christ. We must act and respond to people with a pure heart and good intentions. We must seek to share the truth of God’s love with all people. Let no offensive words leave our mouths, let no offensive actions be laid to our charge. If any offence is to come, let it be the Gospel that offends. If it does offend that means it is convicting those that take offence.

We see in the news everyday people treating each other poorly. The worst part is when we see the followers of Jesus Christ responding poorly by calling out judgment that is not theirs to give. We need to return to that which reflects the truth and love of Christ. He sits on the throne. He has been charged with the judgment of the world. Our responsibility is to share the gospel and love people. Even those that hate us.

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 KJV