When I was a young girl it really bothered me what other people thought of me. When someone disliked me for no apparent reason. I put WAY too much time and energy in trying to win the approval and affection of people who were quite honestly, never gonna like me regardless of what I did. The truth is, there are some people that are just unkind. It doesn’t make a lot of sense why we find validation in the approval (or disapproval) of these people. Even as a grown woman, I sometimes find myself reverting back to seeking after that same acceptance from these type people as I did before I gained maturity in Christ and learned better.
God’s word tells us to love people. ALL people. 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 (Romans 12:20). From a child I grew up thinking this verse meant simply heaping kindness upon our enemy, but I’m thinking it means more than that.
As Christians, our highest calling is to love. Recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 5: 43-46. Loving our neighbor isn’t optional. God expects us to love everyone if we call ourselves His children. We should constantly be producing the fruit of showing love to not only our friends and family, but also to those who are unkind and mistreat us. This can be SO HARD TO DO. But the harsh truth is, if we deliberately ignore God’s command to love those who are hardest to love, we are in dire need of spiritual self-evaluation.
Heaping coals isn’t throwing condemnation at someone who mistreats or dislikes us. That’s not our job. And there’s certainly no guarantee the recipient of our love will come to himself…realizing, you know what? I deserved the treatment of an enemy, but you have given me the treatment of a friend. Your loving action has changed my mind about you. If this is our motive, then our intentions are misplaced.
The word is clear that whether those who receive our kindness have a change of heart or not, it’s our own behavior, not theirs, that should be our focus. We are to do the good and loving thing, whether it changes anything about the relationship or not. Responding with hate, only makes things worse, and most often will kill our Christian witness.
Real life truth: we have zero excuse not to love people. Often, when we read passages of scripture that commands this, we come up with excuses to absolve us of our responsibility. We think that if we don’t feel loved by someone, then we don’t have to show love to them. This is a lie from Satan himself, and could not be farther from the truth. This includes those who mistreat us, talk badly about us, or wrongly persecute us. We are without excuse, because any level of love that God calls us to display to another human, has already been extended to us by God more deeply than we can hope to understand.
It’s the world that teaches us to repay hate for hate. Returning love for hate is the greatest tool of witness that we have in our pocket. We are called to be the salt. A light. A city set on a hill. What better way to do so than by displaying Christ’s love in a world so divided? What better way to force others to take notice and wonder what might compel us to show such love to the most unlovable.
I know it can seem impossible…especially when you feel hurt, you don’t understand, and you want so badly to repay wrongdoings with vengeance. But with God, everything is possible. He makes the impossible, possible. Let me encourage you friend: Next time you’re faced with the choice to show love to your enemy, be mindful of the undeserving love we ourselves are given each day by the good Lord. Respond in love. Not just with your mouth or your actions. But with the heart. This is pleasing in His sight. THAT’S when scripture becomes real in our lives; true coals of fire reigning love on the ones who need it so desperately.
Kindness and love that only comes from God can make a difference in the lives of those we touch. The perfect mixture of Jesus’ blood and his life changing spirit that is placed in our hearts when we accept him, was created to flow through us Christians to draw all people to God. This is God’s will for us. A high calling we should all take great measure to fulfill.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men (I Thessalonians 5:15)