Scripture: Matthew 22: 34-40
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Yesterday we thought about people in our lives that can be tough to love. And we hopefully realized that we have to love these people anyway. You might not have to “like” them on Facebook or follow them on twitter, but you’re called on to love them.
Today, I want to talk about some verses in Proverbs that have always intrigued me:
“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head and the Lord shall reward thee.”
There is a similar verse in the New Testament, in Romans 12:20.
It’s strange isn’t it…but it speaks to us at our human level and in some way acknowledges our human nature’s desire for revenge. “OK, so I’ll feed him, and give him some water…but only because this will make his ultimate judgment even worse! I’ll show him!” This isn’t exactly the right motivation or loving attitude is it? But the verse doesn’t speak or even seem to care about how you FEEL while you are doing it. It just says do it.
And what do the “burning coals” mean? Interpretations and commentary on this verse are a bit all over the map. Some say that the “burning coals” during that time in history were symbolic of mercy and blessings and did not mean ultimate revenge and that the negative “hell-fire” like connotations attributed to the coals are misguided. Some commentators give the divine justice “hell-fire” interpretation some credence.
One I liked best balances the justice with the mercy.
Meaning: if you minister to your enemy one of two things will happen:
1. He will be won over by what you are doing and your relationship will be restored and maybe you will end up leading that person to Christ or helping them in their spiritual life. (A “win” for you both and God is glorified).
2. He won’t. He’ll be ungrateful-maybe even spurn you and wonder about your motives. (A “win” for you anyway because you’ve been obedient and you’ve prayed for “God’s best” for him. You’ve kept your side of the street clean. And God is glorified). So you can move forward in peace.
So, by being the loving person, you “win” under either scenario and you know that God will be glorified and is in charge of deciding the ultimate outcome!
And God PROMISES you a reward if you do it. You may have to wait until Heaven to get the reward or it may be more immediate. But He’s promised it and you know He doesn’t lie!
If you wait until your heart is right, you’ve forgiven the person completely or your motivations are pure and selfless and Christ-like chances are you would never bake the bread or pour the water. You’ll just stay stuck. Then your enemy wins and you don’t get the reward.
It’s like telling a child if he eats his broccoli, he will get ice cream. And if he doesn’t eat his broccoli, there is no ice cream. So you might as well eat your broccoli now so you can get to the ice cream!
So ask God to help you love through your actions even if your heart and mind aren’t there yet.
Leave the future to Him and choose to love through actions today and wait for the promised reward!
All the Best in 2013!