Friday, October 11, 2013

Proverbs 25:21-22 Motivation matters!

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread 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)

I must have learned this verse years ago, because I have referred to it so many times! Paul picks it up in Romans 12 when writing about how Christians ought to live:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21)

The clear theme of these verses is to do the supernatural thing when you have been hurt by an enemy. The natural thing would be to lash out, defend yourself, and even cut down your enemy, all the while justifying your anger. The supernatural thing is to agree with Jesus: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” When we overcome evil with good we glorify God. And at the same time, we leave our enemy confused and feeling like garbage! :) The Message paraphrases Proverbs 22 this way:

Your generosity will surprise him with goodness,

    and God will look after you.

The Living Bible puts it this way:

This will make him feel ashamed of himself, and God will reward you.

I will confess that I have viewed this idea of heaping coals on someones head with a little bit of glee! But Paul makes it clear that my heart attitude stinks! He tells me to “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all,” which tells me to check my heart and motives. God’s desire is always to lead men to repentance, because He wants all of them to come to Him. So my motivation in being kind to my enemies must be their redemption, not merely to see them ashamed!

Oh, LORD, I fall so short! Thank you that you are not finished with me yet! Help me to remember that you are also not finished with my enemies yet!  

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