Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015 “The Unexpected Response”

“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.” (Romans 12:20)

Good Morning Blessed Children of God!

Very few, if any of us are so blessed in this life that we have never had an enemy. There are many things that can lead to an adversarial relationship with someone else…differing political viewpoints, cultural differences, unkind words…even something as simple as being cut off in traffic may lead to anger that soon becomes animosity. A root of bitterness may then take hold and lead to a lifelong disdain towards another person. Of course, this is not the sort of attitude that we should seek to nurture as Christians, let alone as just being decent human beings. Nevertheless, it is a challenge for anyone.  The French writer/philosopher Voltaire once confessed:

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” 

Now, from a certain viewpoint, this is not unlike Paul’s directive in the Book of Romans. Paul advocated a most peculiar way to deal with enemies…one that echoed Christ’s own directive. While our natural tendency is to lash out at those who have wronged us, Paul’s counsel is “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.” Comparing this with Voltaire’s “prayer”, I see this similarity. One sure way to make your enemy “ridiculous” is to “heap burning coals on his head” through acts of kindness. Paul is speaking metaphorically, of course, but can’t you just envision such a sight! It’s rather “cartoonish” when you think about it…your enemy, hair ablaze, running down the road, looking for a bucket of water in which to stick his or her head! What Paul means is this: returning kindness when wronged brings shame, and hopefully a repentant heart, to an enemy. It also assuages our own anger and transforms us from within, and makes us more like Christ. The expected response is one of anger for anger. The unexpected response, the “hilarious” response, is kindness, and it is the enemy who is made to look “ridiculous”.  Perhaps Voltaire, in praying as he did, was closer to the truth than he imagined. Remember Jesus’ own words from Matthew 5:44: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”  Let’s pray!

Gracious God; Remove any root of bitterness we would harbor in our hearts towards our enemies. Give us a heart of compassion, that we might truly reflect Your love even to those who would wrong us. In doing so, we are transformed as well. Grant us this request, we pray, in Jesus’ Most Holy Name. Amen!




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