Proverbs 25:21-22

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap coals of fire on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

It seems that there are those who have a problem with this verse. It’s actually quoted other places in the Bible, so we ought to pay special attention to it. However, I want to do what I can to remove our hesitation at living out this verse.

The hesitation comes because it feels manipulative. It feels like we’re trying to use the doing of good things to bring about bad feelings. It feels like we’re trying to accomplish something bad in someone’s life.

But that’s not the case at all. Basically, here’s how I see it.

First, you do the good thing and it accomplishes what this proverb talks about – you heap coals of fire on his head. Most likely not literally, but still it works. You do something nice, and they feel guilty because you’re nice to them.

Second, you do the good thing and it doesn’t make the person feel guilty, instead they do something nice for you in return.

Either way, where is the harm in that? In the first scenario, you’ve done something nice for someone who doesn’t deserve it. And the Lord will reward you for that. In the second scenario, you did something nice, and got something nice in return. Again, where is the problem?

And that’s probably the point of this proverb. Doing something nice for your enemy is a better way of handling your enemy than continuing to treat them poorly. Whichever way it turns out, you’ve done something nice and the Lord is going to reward you for that.

It’s hard to go wrong.