Then there is the “Therefore,” which refers to the above verse and leads to the appropriate (or Christian) action “... 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. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The natural thing to do when someone inflicts injury on another is to “get back” or retaliate. But is that the way of a Christian? The answer is very unnatural — if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if thirsty, give him drink.
So what does that accomplish? “... in so doing, you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Heaping coals of fire on someone’s head — the means of carrying the coals — was the ultimate in generosity and hospitality ... overcoming evil with good. Coals of fire were precious — they meant life to a family. To share coals of fire was an unselfish deed. And to feed an enemy or give him drink was the same as sharing this valuable commodity so vital in daily living.
That is how evil is overcome by good. The advice is for the injured one. Let God take care of the “vengeance.” Don’t take this matter into your own hands, Paul advises. Don’t let wrath take over your emotions. Sure, you hurt, but an all-wise, all-loving God knows how to repay and His way is always best for everyone.
The wise man in Proverbs 15:1 said this: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” He is just stating a fact. And it works.
A church’s new pastor and his wife were raking leaves in the church yard (leaves from a next-door neighbor’s tree) when the elderly neighbor affronted the wife from her front porch. “That’s just what people do,” she scowled, “rake their leaves and trash to someone’s else’s yard,” and went back into the house. They learned later that the neighbor had been very antagonistic toward the church, even to calling the police when someone parked in front of her house one time.
“What did she say to you?” asked the pastor.
“Oh, nothing,” was the reply. “I’m going over to visit her in a few minutes,” she said, with the intention to pray first.
A few minutes later, she got her Bible from the car and knocked at the lady’s front door. When the door was opened, the pastor’s wife introduced herself and said she wanted to get acquainted with the people in the community. She was invited in and their conversation began with comments on the beautiful antique furnishings in the home and flourishing green plants. The pastor’s wife learned the woman was alone, didn’t have family and wasn’t able to attend her church in town anymore. And she seldom had any company.
The neighbor was glad to have the pastor’s wife read some Scripture. As she was leaving, the wife asked if she could pray for her. When the prayer ended, the lady raised her head, tears streaming down her face, as she thanked her visitor for praying. At the door, she told her, “I didn’t mean what I said,” and added, “You can even park in my yard if you want to.”
Plans were made to visit each Sunday morning to study the Sunday school lesson with her. The very next Sunday, when the Sunday school teacher knocked at her door, she was welcomed with coffee and cake and the Bible was opened on the table waiting. What a difference!
The heart and life of a child of God doesn’t have to be cluttered with thoughts and actions of vengeance or payback. That’s God’s business and He knows just what to do. “All to Jesus I surrender....”