When you see or hear of someone you feel has been way out of line getting their comeuppance, do you secretly rejoice?
Sorry to say, that’s exactly what I did as I watched a man catch his own feet on fire when the Molotov cocktail he was throwing prematurely exploded. I hope you weren’t around to hear me say, “Serves you right!”
Shame on me! I know better and there’s no excuse or reasoning away my wrong response and heart attitude. God’s word is super clear on this:
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
- Bless those who persecute you. Romans 12:14
- Vengeance belongs to God. Hebrews 10:30
So, how do we overcome evil with good?
By heaping burning coals on their head. Proverbs 25:21-22
That doesn’t sound right, does it? Actually, it does, when we understand the “burning coals” we heap on the head of an evil doer are not meant to hurt but help them. The “coals” are a kind response and prayers for the other person. Nothing pricks the conscience of a hateful person like a soft, forgiving spirit in the one he has wronged. Nothing makes us feel more ashamed and embarrassed by our actions than someone reacting to our hurtful behavior who is kind and forgiving. And the goal of a gentle reaction to bad behavior is not to embarrass (or get the last self-righteous word in) but to help facilitate repentance—a change of mind and heart—and isn’t that what we really want?
I find keeping my eyes on Jesus – not the nightly news – helps. After all, the only reason I’m even able to see my sin, and ask God to forgive me is because of what He did for me, and all us evildoers on the cross, and the gift of His Holy Spirit living within me. Talk about taking a taste of your own medicine…
The next time you want to say, “Take that you dirty rat!” try saying instead, “Lord, help me pour some burning coals on that head—and pray for them.