Burning Coals

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If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you (Pr 25:21-22 ESV).

Love for one’s enemy is a biblical theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. In this Proverb eat and drink are commands; enemy and heap are participles. It is a fact that we will deal with enemies in this life, but when we heed the command of giving our enemy bread to eat and water to drink we will continuously heap burning coals on the head of our enemy. The concept of heaping coal’s on an enemy’s head is one of pain and shame. The verb reward is related to shalom which is more than just peace, it is the state of being whole.

Paul confirms this when he says, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Ro 12:20.) As in Proverbs 25:21-22 feed and drink are commands. But the motive of Paul is different: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Ro 12:19).

When we allow the Lord to deal with our enemies and we trust Him by loving our foes, He will take care of us. This is a mark of the true Christian. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Ro 12:21). Paul commands us to not be overcome by evil as well as to overcome evil with good. This is by no means easy! But we can rest assured that God is indeed a God who wages war on His enemies. While this is NOT popular today, it is true. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, there is a theology of holy war in the Bible.

Each day is one day closer to the return of Christ, as such believers need to start practicing what it looks like to love their enemies now. Hostility for Christians is growing by the day. As Philip Ryken says, “The law always reveals the character of the lawgiver” (P. Ryken, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory,2005, p. 525). As to the character of the lawgiver, “It must also be noted that Jesus’ instruction on the love of enemies (Matt 5:43–47) be read in light of this proverb and that the love of enemy is originally an Old Testament idea that was both enacted and commanded by Jesus” (Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiasties, Song of Songs, 1993, p 209). The more that we love our enemies and overcome evil with good the more we will be transformed into the image of Christ.

Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Matthew, Romans we are given commands to love God, be holy as God is holy, love our neighbor and to let the Lord take vengeance for His Name’s sake and for the sake of His people. Again, I do not claim this is easy; however, may we start obeying God and His commands. The more that we love our enemies, overcoming evil with good, the more we will be transformed into Christ’s image.

Lord God, it is not easy to love our enemies. I am thankful Lord that loving our enemy does not go hand and hand with reconciliation. Lord God, give us wisdom and discernment when it comes to handling difficult relationships and people. Lord God, help Your Church. Help us to be a people who live in Your strength and not our own. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are both a God of Wrath and a God of Love. May we NEVER forget that You are Just, Jealous and Compassionate. May we NEVER take Your mercy and grace for granted. Lord God, it is time for Your called out, set apart, holy people to live LESS like this world and MORE like citizens of Heaven. Lord Jesus, You know I get this wrong ALL the time, I am a sinner saved by grace and I praise You for the gift of salvation daily. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lead them and guide them as they navigate living in a world that is rapidly changing. Keep this reader connected to You Lord and in all things may they seek You more than the things of this world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

56 thoughts on “Burning Coals”

  1. Mandy, That not so little command and general principle throughout the bible ties me up in knots with some overthinking. I think. I wrestle with the question “How active is that Love?” Am I to find out what my enemy needs? Is there a sin of willful ignorance to my enemy? Am I ok that my neighbor is my enemy and I purposefully never cross paths? (try leading a small group with those questions)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Gary, I appreciate those questions and the wrestling matches and knots that occur! I volunteer with you and they have these questions as well! In a lot of instances I think our attitude of not retaliating is a big one. At least that’s the best answer I can give myself and others. God does not owe us an explanation as to our circumstances/enemies, but He will most certainly help us to respond rightly when we are seeking to obey Him for His Name’s Sake. Thank you for reading and commenting Gary, I really appreciate it!!! Will you go fishing today?!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Mandy. No fishing for me until I get rid of my terrible cold from my last fishing trip in high winds and very cold weather with the ice partially out. I should know better by now. relegated to drinking coffee and teas and looking out the window again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Hard one!” You are right, Mandy that it is not easy but we must do it as CHRIST “enacted and commanded.” Only the peace of JESUS (John 14:27) and GOD’s hand can make us love our enemies, forgive them completely, and care for them. Blessings to you and Nathan! Regards to PQ and Planty!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Mandy, I can identify with you that this is difficult because our natural inclination is to return what we have been given. Key word there would be “natural” as in humanistic leanings. There are obviously different situations but if there is a general rule that applies to this I would think it is not to return in like manner and show or demonstrate some level of difference in our general attitude. If this is a class that we are taking I think it would be safe to say that I haven’t finished it yet. It certainly serves as a good reminder to us of how our mindset needs further “adjusting” and you’re right, in these times that we are currently in and moving into, it would behoove us to be aware that we are indeed called to be different from what the world presents. Thanks for the reminder! Blessings!

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  4. As someone who recently forgave her “enemies” (and you know my story), it can seem intimidating, even impossible at first, but it’s really the best thing a person can do! Just forgive, be nice, and those difficult people will no longer seem so scary. God really has your back 🙂 Thanks for sharing and many hugs to you and yours!

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  5. I was just reading this this morning! And I need to ask forgiveness because I actually wanted to heap the burning coals on someone’s head today and not do the nice things. Thank you God for your strength and forgiveness, and the added benefit of no actual burning coals nearby me to tempt me today!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a timely post, Mandy. It’s sobering to think of the direction in which this world is headed. At the same time, we are being given a chance to shine even brighter. How I have to ask God to help me be a light in this growing darkness! It’s definitely a hard thing to do. I’m glad we don’t have to do it in our own strength. I’m reminded of Corrie Ten Boom by this post. God has blessed us with some real life examples of loving our enemies to encourage us to do the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for this good post, Mandy! This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit lately. As we (ideally) become more sanctified in Jesus Christ, we can become more objective about people. Much of people’s unkindness/meanness/hatred/hostility is fueled by personal/spiritual insecurity. A believer spiritually secure in Christ and seeking to please Him has no reason to lash out at others to make themselves feel better/superior. The more we put on the mind of Christ, the less we react with hatred towards those who hate us.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Mandy!

        RE: Today

        I am meeting with my sister who lives here in Rochester who has onset dementia (lives alone in her small house). Another sister in Florida has done a lot of preliminary work in trying to get her to move to a senior/assisted living facility in Florida. Today is the day “we” make a decision and choose a studio or 1-bedroom, set a date, and get the move process going. Lot’s of work ahead for me. She is a semi-hoarder and her entire house smells like her cats’ feces and urine. Filthy beyond description. After our meeting, I plan on coming home and removing some leaves from around the bushes. That will actually be therapeutic after the meeting. 77F and sunny in ROC today! Thank you for your prayers!

        What do you have lined up for today? I’ll be praying for you and Nathan.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am so glad that your sister will be moving to a place where she can receive services. Does this place also have skilled care if/when she were to need 24 hour care? I can imagine her house. Definitely praying for you with that.

        I am meeting my cousin today for lunch and then I want to walk the dog and exercise! Thank you for your prayers!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hope you had a nice get together with your cousin!

        Yup, a resident can transition from independent, to assisted, to full-blown memory care. Her status is probably in-between independent and assisted at this point although she says independent. Thank you for your prayers!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s neat that Nathan can be soo good with cars and car troubles! We got everything good to go for smog check! My folks are getting older, still hoping they come to faith. Hope to see them tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for this post and powerful prayer Mandy. You are so right, loving our enemies doesn’t come naturally to us, when we walk in obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit we are being transformed into the image of Christ. If only I could remember this all the time. Your words are very encouraging and life changing when we obey God and not seek our own revenge.
    Love and blessings

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Painfully necessary reminder for those who claim the name of Christ. Forgiveness and showing mercy and kindness to my enemy goes against the very core of my flesh. My flesh seeks vengeance. BUT, by God’s grace those who have been reconciled to God through Jesus are new creations and have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We CAN obey God and show love to our enemies. Such love is not purely emotive, it is willful obedience to God because we love Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “I am thankful Lord that loving our enemy does not go hand and hand with reconciliation.” True.

    By God’s grace He enables us to love our enemies.

    Amen to your prayer! 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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