Saturday, 25th April 2020
Proverbs 25: 21-22
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.
Paul quoted this in Romans 12: 20 “On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him: if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
William Hendriksen in commenting on this verse says it’s a way of making the enemy ashamed of himself. He is also of the view that it’s also a deed of benevolence (giving live coals to those in need). He says Romans 12: 21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” To be overcome by evil means (a) to allow the enemy to get you down, and (b) to plan and return evil for evil.
To overcome evil by good means (a) to continue living a life of faith in, and love for, God and for everyone, not excluding the person who has injured you, the kind of life marked by transformation into the image of Christ and then and only then can you by humility, helpfulness and peace to go out of your way, by word and deed, to show kindness to the one who has injured you.
In Romans 12 Paul again and again, with slight variation, repeat this exhortation “Bless those who persecute you … Do not return evil for evil … Do not take revenge, beloved … overcome evil with good.” (vs 14, 17, 19 21). Because he knew that returning good for evil was something against which sinful human nature violently rebels but from his experience as an Apostle of our Lord, he knew that the only way to overcome evil is with good which would fill the heart of an opponent with shame and penitence.
Hendriksen cited an example from a pastor friend of his. It was “under a cloud” that the former pastor had left. With part of the congregation, he was, however, still popular. So, when his successor arrived, one of the members told the latter, “I do not recognise you as my pastor.” The pastor to whom these words were spoken to received grace to remain calm. Afterwards he took special pains to perform his pastoral duties when sickness entered the home of the disgruntled church member. Result: the day came when that man told the pastor, “I now fully and gladly recognise you as my pastor.” That is what overcoming evil with good that Paul talks about and also what our two verses in Proverbs teach us.
There was this sister in one of the former churches that I pastored many years ago who was always against almost everything I proposed. Sometime after I left the church, I heard she was pretty sick in the hospital. The moment I walked in to visit her, with tears in her eyes, she said, “Pastor, I never expected you will come to visit me.” That’s another incident of overcoming evil with good.
The Old Testament teaches (Ex 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut. 19:21) an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth, but nowadays it is more an eye for both your eyes and a tooth for your whole set of teeth so your oppressor can only eat Tau Foo Fa and Yong Tau Foo the rest of his life!! But our Lord’s teaching is if someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him your left, if someone wants your tunic, let him have your cloak if someone forces you to go a mile, go with him two. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:38-41; 44). Hard teaching and even harder to practice and only those who have Christ in their life can do that.
Yes, this Christian virtue of never returning evil for evil but always good for evil is a hard and difficult lesson to learn. We should pray for God’s blessings on our persecutors, and by means of kindness strive to “heap coals of fire upon their heads” of those who are cruel to us. Yes, we should try to make these bitter opponents ashamed of themselves. Joseph did that (Gen. 45: 1-15; 50: 15-21); so did Elisha (II Kings 6:20-23); Stephen too (Acts 7:59,60) and of course, above all, our Lord and Saviour (Luke 23:34.)
They all can do that not only because they have God in their lives, above all they have a much closer walk with our God and Saviour. More spiritual and mature Christians always take the first step to say sorry, apologise and make peace in any conflict even though they may be in the right. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” (Matt 5: 9). Our Lord teaches us that “when your brother has something against you” (Matt 5: 23-24) and “If your brother sins against you” (Matt 18: 15) we who are more spiritual and mature must always make the first move to make peace and reconcile.
After that when Peter asked “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven-time? Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt 18: 21-22). Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, if we want a closer walk with our Lord, if we want to grow and mature in our Christian life, if we want our Lord to bless and reward us (Prov 25:22) for our obedience to His Word, then we need to reach out in love and grace and forgiveness to those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt us.
And what better time than this? Just a call or Whatsapp message as to how they are doing in this MCO. Let’s surprise them and wish them and their family well and safe. Let’s scatter lots of “burning coals” on their heads, not to hurt them but to bless them. Then we will see the floodgates of heaven thrown open and our heavenly Father will pour out so many blessings that we and they will not have room enough for it.
Dear Lord, we thank you for this reminder to not only to have the grace to forgive our enemies but more so to bless them with food when they are hungry and drink when they are thirsty. Help us to be the channel to bring them the “bread of life” (Jn 6:35) if they have yet to hear about You so they will never grow hungry again. Help us also to help them to come to you to drink the water that you give and they will never thirst again (Jn 4:13).
Above all Lord, help us to draw closer to you and to do all the things that you have taught and commanded us to do in order to be more like you.
In your precious Name, we pray all this, AMEN.
威廉·亨德里克森（ William Hendriksen）表示，这是一种让敌人为自己感到羞耻的方式。 他也认为这是仁慈的行为（提供炭火给有需要的人）。 他也赞同“不可被恶所胜，反要以善胜恶。” （罗马书12:21）“被恶所胜” 是指（一）因敌人而感到沮丧（二）谋算以恶报恶。
在罗马书第十二章，保罗一次又一次，略有变化地重复这劝告：“ 迫害你们的，要为他们祝福；不可以恶报恶；不要报仇；亲爱的啊，以善胜恶。” （参十四，十七，十九，二十一节 ）。他知道以善还恶是罪人极力反对的，但是作为主的使徒，他认为战胜恶的唯一方法就是善，敌人会因此蒙受无比的耻辱和后悔。
旧约教导以眼还眼，以牙还牙（参出21:24;利24:20;申19:21）。但如今更像是以“双眼”还眼，以“全牙”还牙，使你的敌人一生只能吃豆腐花和酿豆腐！但是我们主的教导是，有人打你的右脸，连左脸也转过来由他打。若有人要拿你的里衣，连外衣也由他拿去。有人强逼你走一里路，你就同他走二里。爱你的敌人，为那些逼迫你的人祈祷。 （马太福音5：38-41; 44）。这是如此严格的教导，甚至难以实践，只有那些生活中有基督的人才能做到。
他们所有人都能做到这一点，不仅因为他们的生命中有上帝，而且最重要的是，他们与我们的上帝和救主走得更近。尽管他们是对的，但属灵成熟的基督徒总是迈出第一步，对任何冲突表示歉意, 与人和好。 “使人和平的人有福了，因为他们必称为上帝的儿子” （太5：9）。我们的主教导我们：“如果弟兄对你不满”（太5：23-24）和“如果你的弟兄犯了罪”（太18:15），灵性更加成熟的人必须先主动求和解。