Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.– Romans 12:20-21
We have looked at how we are to live honorably, recompensing to no man evil for evil. We then saw how we were to strive with all we have in us to live peaceably with all men. Then we spent three days looking at how we are to live forgivingly, giving place to OUR wrath, the wrath of OTHERS, and the wrath of GOD. To summarize all these truths, Paul writes two small verses to help us get a big-picture view of how to apply these truths to help us in our actions toward others.
He first says, “Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.” This is taken from Proverbs 25:21-22. Indeed this is a proverb of magnificent wisdom that our carnal mind wants to read right over. BOTH a literal AND allegorical interpretation can help in applying this verse. If thine enemy hunger, FEED HIM! If he thirst, GIVE him drink. Not talk bad about him. Not complain about him. Not make his life worse. Not wish judgment upon him. Not hope he dies from starvation. Not desire his existence to wither away. Not hope he goes to hell. Not hope he lives a spiritually immature life. FEED him. GIVE him drink. Feed him food for the nourishment of his body. Feed him the nutrients whereby he can be refreshed. Give him the sustenance to kindle life in him. Give him Scriptural truth from a loving heart. Share with him the love of God which has been shed abroad in your heart. This applies to ANY enemy you have, whether he be lost or saved. Feed him and give him water. If he’s lost, give him to eat of the love of God and share with him the water of life. If he’s saved, give him to eat of Scriptural truth through love and share with him the water of the Word which is able to infuse life and maturity into his dry being. Care about him. Love him.
What is the result of this kindness? “For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Now, let’s not take this verse out of context. The previous verse taught us we are not to take vengeance for ourselves, neither should we desire it. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and Him only. We saw how instead of harboring a heart filled with wrath, we were to give place to it. By comparing Scripture with other Scripture, we saw this meant to have an anger which is controlled and dissipating. In other words, rather than the Bible ENCOURAGING us to be angry, we are instead EXPECTED to live honorably, peaceably, and forgivingly – to love our neighbors as ourselves.
With this in mind, our motivation for feeding our enemy and giving him drink should NOT be that we may heap coals of fire on his head. Was this why our Lord went to Calvary? To bruise Satan’s head? He did in fact bruise Satan’s head, and it was prophesied in Genesis 3:15. By the Lord suffering wrongdoing upon himself – by the Lord enduring agonizing affliction and torment – by the Lord hanging upon a cross as a Lamb prepared for sacrifice, Satan was defeated. THIS was not our Lord’s motivation. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Satan’s defeat was not Our Lord’s motivation. His motivation was US. His motivation was the future eternity He will share with the Redeemed. It was Joy and Hope that motivated Him. It was His love for US which motivated him. Not anger. By showing love in the grandest way possible, God was able to heap coals of fire upon Satan’s head. That wasn’t the GOAL, that was just the simple outcome.
We too will heap coals of fire upon our enemy’s head by showing him kindness. This shouldn’t be done deliberately though. This is just simply the outcome of what happens when you show some kindness.