Monday, May 21, 2012

Revisiting ~ Proverbs 25 ~ Fire Your Enemy

Photo Courtesy of Jason Conlon
"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
 And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
 And the Lord will reward you."
 ~ Proverbs 25:21-22

Throughout my childhood years, I felt as if the world contained more enemies than friends. Bullied and picked on, I dreamed of a day I could move away from it all. I could start over and build new friendships with people who didn't know who I was and would give me a chance before making a judgment. 

Unfortunately, friendships come and go and very few of them last a lifetime. Enemies, on the other hand, are found every day. Someone at work is afraid you'll take their position. (They see something in you that threatens them.) Someone in your family will never change and always has something snide to say. Someone in your neighborhood finds fault with your yard on a daily basis. When will these people ever leave you alone?
We find ourselves desiring to get away from it all.

But God says to give those enemies food and drink. As Christian women, it is up to us to take the higher ground, to do the right thing, to do what Jesus would do. Jesus didn't curse His enemies and cry out to God to put a death wish on them (unlike Jonah, who set up under a tree to watch for God to rain fire down on Nineveh). He cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
What does feeding and providing water for our enemies look like? To me, it's helping them when they're in need. It's forgiving them for their injustices. It's not reacting to their pushing, but attempting to find a compromise that satisfies us both (without compromising my Christian integrity). 

I'll never forget the time my pastor's wife recommended we think of one person we considered to be an enemy. Then she instructed us to do something nice for that person. It challenged me, but I made sure to send my high school rival a Christmas card every year for a few years. I don't know if it ever made a difference. She never mentioned the cards when I passed her in the grocery store. She never sent a card in return. But she never returned or rejected them, either.
Retaliating against our enemies never does anything but add fuel to the fire of strife that already burns. But responding to their iniquities with love is like heaping coals of fire on their heads. They recognize their ill wills, whether they desire to admit it to themselves or us or not. Christ's love shining through us will effect them one way or another. And who knows? God may call them yet.

The Lord will reward you for responding in love to the worst of your enemies. You may not recognize the reward on earth, just as I have never received a return Christmas card. But, God sees all and knows all. And His rewards are eternal.

What can you do for your enemy today? When we step out of ourselves in love, we may find our enemies on our side one day.

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