June 7, 2021
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. Proverbs 25:21-22 ESV
Paul paraphrases the above verses in his letter to the Romans regarding refraining from vengeance—citing that vengeance is a matter solely for our Lord (Romans 12:19-20). The takeaway is that we must resist the temptation to get even—it will only worsen the strife. Instead, if we respond with acts of kindness we will overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Abraham Lincoln followed this biblical principle when he appointed three of his political opponents (William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates) to cabinet positions. Eventually, they became allies and helped him to guide our nation through a civil war and the emancipation of slaves.
As with Lincoln, we must exercise patience and discernment as to when and how to move toward our enemies. It is unlikely that they will leap for joy when we first extend an olive branch. Still, regardless of the outcome, if our motive is restorative (not punitive), the Lord will reward us.
Thank you, Father, for extending your love and care to us when we were once your enemies. Help us to prudently do the same to those who oppose us. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling