Showing God's Grace to the Undeserving

Scripture: Proverbs 25:21-22, ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.’

 

Observations: In a time when revenge was considered normal this proverb stands out. Elsewhere the Old Testament limits revenge with cities of refuge (Josh 20) and the principle of an ‘eye for an eye. (Ex 21:23-24)’ But this proverb goes much further suggesting that we show compassion to our enemies. Rather than exploiting their misfortune we are to bless them. Jesus expounds this same principle when he tells us to ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Mt 5:44)’ And Paul quotes these verses and encourages us to ‘overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:19-21)’ The idea of ‘heaping burning coals on their head,’ isn’t literal, rather it stands either for the ‘red-faced shame’ they will experience, or the pain they experience because of your compassion, but I prefer the idea that it refers to God’s judgment if they do not repent in response to your kindness. No matter how they respond ‘the Lord will reward’ the gracious – those who show love to the undeserving. That’s what Jesus meant when he told us to ‘be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:48)’

 

Application: How can you show God’s love and kindness to people who have or are mistreating you? That doesn’t mean we allow them to do evil, but it does mean that we don’t seek revenge, rather we seek their good. What broken relationships do you need to feed and water? There’s no guarantee that your efforts will produce results, but God cares, and he will do what is right, and he will reward those who show the same grace to others that he has shown to us. How much has God’s grace changed you into a gracious person?

 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, the truth is that I was once Your enemy, I had rebelled against You and put myself on the throne, and yet You loved me, and You sent Your Spirit to feed and water my soul. Lord I thank You for the grace that gave me life when what I deserved was death. Lord, help me to show that same grace to others. Reveal to me those who I need to show Your kindness too, that they may see Your grace in action through my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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