Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Ian Rees, Bath, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Part 2 of 11 of the series Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World

Precious Seed

‘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’, Prov. 25. 21-22.

'Heaping coals of fire’ upon an opponent’s head has become a proverbial expression in English and remains in common use even today. The thought behind the proverb is that if we repay evil with good we shall awaken the conscience of our enemy and make him feel uncomfortable. The ‘coals of fire’ are the pangs of conscience that are ignited when someone feels bad about what they have done to us.

The natural tendency is for us to ‘give as good as we get.’Yet this instinctive response does little to defuse the situation and invariably brings more trouble. It also reveals a vindictive, spiteful side to our character. Showing kindness to those who oppose us, on the other hand, is a fundamental principle of the Christian faith.

Two results stem for such generous behaviour to our enemies. In the first place, we will do our enemy good, for we will bring him/her to see the unworthiness of his/her behaviour and to feel embarrassed about it. Kindness at our hands, so unexpected in response to the unkindness we had been shown, teaches a lesson neither violence nor vituperation ever could. The second result is that God will reward us.He sees our generous behaviour and will reward us for it, even if others will not.

When we show kindness to our enemies we imitate God Himself, for when we were at enmity with God, and perhaps still are,when we opposed Him,disregarded Him and disobeyed Him,yet still He sent His Son to die upon the cross,‘the just for the unjust to bring us to God’.He responded in love to us, despite our enmity to Him. ‘When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son’, Rom 5. 10. Christ set us an example for, ‘when he was reviled, [he] reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously’, 1 Pet. 2. 23. He will never ask us to do what He was not willing to do Himself. Kindness and grace shown in response to unkindness is ‘the noblest of all actions as it succeeds in saving the enemy while it destroys his enmity’. Have you responded to God’s love? Have you mirrored it in your actions to others?

It is easy for us to ‘bite and devour one another’. Gal. 5. 15. Everyone does it. But the apostle Paul, in quoting this proverb in Romans 12. 20, adds, ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’. Are you big enough to do that?

AUTHOR PROFILE: IAN REES saw an assembly planted in Francistown, Botswana, having served the Lord there for 13 years. Now based in the UK, he was in fellowship in Manvers Hall, Bath, one of his commending assemblies. He has now moved to establish a new assembly in Tenby, West Wales. He is married and has seven children.

There are 24 articles in
ISSUE (2004, Volume 59 Issue 3)

1 Corinthians 15-16 (3)

The Ark of the Covenant

Bethany Residental Home

Biblical Forgiveness

Day by Day Bible Promises

Does the Bible teach that there’s a place, or state of existence, called Purgatory?

Editorial

Giving and Receiving

What does God look like?

Gospel Work and other Activities

He Opened to us the Scripture

Hezekiah’s Revival

In Search of the Perfect Timepiece

The King and His Kingdom - Matthew Simply Explained

Last of all and servant of all ... and He took a little child

Many Mansions?

The Mother Who Yearned Over Her Son

The Passion of the Christ

A Pastor in New York

Peter’s ‘Precious Points’

Rebel without a Cause

The Thrill of a United and Harmonious Assembly

...what kind of love is this?

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

There are 11 articles in this series

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Job

Wise words from the book of Job

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

There are 31 articles by this author

‘Wonna bet?’

What can God do?

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Job

What does God know?

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Who made God?

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

What does God look like?

What does God look like?

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Is God ever unfair?

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Job

Is God ever unkind?

Behaving ourselves in the house of God

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

IN MY PLACE

Abortion - The Moral Maze

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Stepping stones . . . through the Bible day by day

A Brief History of the Authorised (King James) Version

How God Called Me to Full-time Service

Characters Around the Crucifixion

Characters Around the Crucifixion - Ciaphas who Sacrificed Him

Characters Around the Crucifixion - Part 3 - Peter Who Denied Him

Characters Around the Crucifixion - Part 4 - Herod who Mocked Him

Characters Around the Crucifixion. Part 5 Pilate Who Condemned Him

Characters Around the Crucifixion - Part 6 - Simon Who Helped Him

Characters Around the Crucifixion - The Thief who turned to Him - Part 7