If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV)
The other night my daughter called and wanted some advice about a situation going on at the girl’s school. As women, we seem to be very good at creating large problems out of small incidents, the proverbial mountains out of molehills, and she was mixed up in one with another mother.
In thinking about the various aspects of the problem, I conceded that mothers become very protective about their children and intimidated if there is a feeling of being taken advantage. It is also easy to make assumptions about another person’s life, particularly if things are not going well in our own home. Before you know it, we misconstrue seemingly, simple, innocent gestures or actions resulting in hard feelings and unkind responses.
So how do you handle the elephant in the room? I immediately thought of the phrase “heaping coals of fire” on an enemy’s head from today’s verse. Not sure about the exact meaning, I decided to do a google search and found some interesting definitions:
* In the biblical era, fire was a valuable commodity. Often a person would go to a neighbor and ask for a coal with which to start his fire. This expression means don’t just give him the basic essential. Instead, give him so many coals they are so heavy he has to carry them on his head as was the custom with heavy loads. Thus, we are taught a lesson in helpful generosity.
* To heap coals of fire on the head of a foe: To melt down his animosity by deeds of kindness.
* It means to treat someone who wrongs you with extra kindness, above and beyond the norm and in spite of whatever they have done to you. It usually shocks the person and points out to them that they have done something wrong.
I found the translation from The Message offered some helpful clues:
If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch;
if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink.
Your generosity will surprise him with goodness,
and God will look after you.
Proverbs 25:21-22 (The Message)
So I gave her a few suggestions: Call this mom up and arrange to meet at Starbucks for coffee. Listen rather than talk. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Offer sympathy and help. She may turn down your offer and probably will never be your BFF, but you will have done your part.
An act of kindness, a simple cup of coffee, may completely turn around the situation. It won’t be easy but remember, it’s during the hard times that we grow. Whatever the outcome, the verse ends with the promise that He will look after you. This is a win-win situation. Got her number?