Who seems to be bent on making you miserable?  Your neighbor?  Your brother-in-law?  Your boss?  Your ex?  And why are they so unjustifiably hateful toward you?  When did they decide that you were the enemy?  Is there anything you can do about it! 

Solomon the wise says “Yes” in Proverbs 25:21-22.  He wrote, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”   NET Bible ®

He pictures a raging battle with two adversaries – launching arrows and throwing spears at each other.  They won’t rest until the other falls on the field of battle. 

The way to prevail in this battle is to throw a picnic for your enemy.  War is exhausting.  No doubt they are famished, so feed them.  They must be thirsty, so give them to drink. 

One would wonder at this point if Solomon was truly wise.  If we nourish our enemies, would this not strengthen them and give them the advantage in the battle?

Ah yes, but then Solomon adds that gory part.  If we should nourish the enemy, it will crown them with a fiery fedora! – burning coals heaped upon their head.  Ah!  So that is how the battle is won.  But it doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

May I explain?  In those days fire was essential.  It cooked your food and warmed your body.  But where did it come from?  A spark from striking flint with iron would do it.  But listen, I was a junior pyromaniac as a kid, and try as I might, I never succeeded in creating a fire this way. 

It’s hard to do.  So, once you had a fire, you maintained it.  At night you would take coals from the pit, put it in a ventilated clay pot that allowed just enough air to sustain the coals without letting them burn up.

The next day, you would sprinkle kindling on your coals and create an instant fire. 

But – what if your coals should happen to burn out over night? 

Then you would take your clay pot to your neighbor’s house and ask for a few of his coals.  You would then take your pot and load it on to your head (which is how they still carry things in the third world) take it home and restart your fire. 

And this is how we understand the Proverb.  People who are hateful, have had their home fire go cold.  The embers have burned out and the fire pit is desolate. 

Treat them with kindness – unexpected kindness – kindness that they do not deserve.  Do that and it helps to rekindle their home fire.

If Jesus would have written this blog He simply would have said, “Love your enemies.”  (Matthew 5:44)

So how do we get that fire rekindled in our foe?  Give them food and drink – maybe a cup of coffee and a scone and leave it on their desk.

Compliment her on her outfit, or him on the quality of his work.  Tell them you appreciate their perspective and ask their advice.  

You might also say, “Hey I am concerned that I may have offended you. Is that the case?”   Honor them with a humble apology.

This is the way to go.  I have done this a lot and have seen it as the beginning of many relational turnarounds.  I plan to share one story in my next blog. 

Solomon passed on a Proverb, a principle on how life typically works – but it is not a guarantee.  A rare adversary will fail to warm.  And yet we are told that the Lord will nevertheless reward us for being so exceptionally kind.   Nothing to lose, and everything to gain. 

A PRAYER: Ooh this is tough Lord, we need your empowerment to make it happen. Help us!

This has been Jim Johnson with pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.