Romans 12:20 – …You Will Heap Burning Coals on his Head

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:20

We are living in a competitive world where we ought to rise above all others to achieve our goal. Competitive spirit in professions and business drive people to choose many other short-cuts to rise above the level of others. One among them is pushing others down without them even realizing it. Conspiracy is a medium for people to do evil deeds in secret. This has been continuing from our ancient days. Victimized people spend sleepless nights fearing about what their enemies are plotting against them.

Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.

Isaiah 8:12

Through prophet Isaiah, God amazingly gave courage to His people asking them not to consider their enemies’ conspiracy as conspiracy at all. Further, God asks His people not to fear as conspirators fear. Here, God teaches us that people are conspiring against each other out of fear and if we trust God, then we need not fear anything.

Using Black Magic

When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Isaiah 8:19

Some groups seek the help of evil spirits to harm others. They chant mantras to invite the evil spirits and direct them to harm people. Black magic is a known medium used by evil people to harm others. Once someone gets into the spell of black magic they are forced by people’s suggestion to use the same medium of black magic to scale the gravity of hurt and to find out the person who did that to him. God warns His people against this kind of evil practice.

Seeking God’s Help

It is ridiculous to come across the kind of people who seek God’s help to harm others. During the initial stage of my ministry I came across a person who requested prayers to harm others. I explained to him that this kind of prayer is impossible for God’s people because the God I serve is a complete package of love. I cannot ask Him to hurt people because out of His love He took everyone’s hurt on Himself.

In the book of Numbers we see Balak seeking the help of the prophet Balaam to bring curse upon the Israelites. Whereas, Balaam knew that nothing could bring curse on the people of God.

For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘What has God wrought!’

Numbers 23:23

Balaam Understanding God’s Will

In spite of Balaam’s repeated refusal, Balak, the king of Moab, persuaded Balaam to curse the Isralites. But the Isralites became enemies of Balak, because they increased and covered the earth. Balaam in this pursuit understood very clearly that God is pleased in blessing His people and stopped asking God’s will again and again. After this clear understanding, he blessed the people of Israel in front of Balak, the king of Moab, the very person who had hired him to curse the people of Israel.

Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness.

Numbers 24:1

Misinterpretation

In our present day, envy encamps the hearts of people when they see a person’s rise but fail to learn from his life on how to obtain the same blessings in their life. For these kind of people, whatever a person says with a good motive may seem like an insult highlighting their incapability. For the people of this category, the below verses send out a different signal. They await an opportunity to harm a person, as a crane awaits on its one leg to catch its prey.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 

Romans 12:19-20

Misinterpreting the above verses, people often seek God’s help to seek revenge on their enemies. The psalmist also prayed in such a manner often times when he came across treacherous acts against his beloved people, friends and son.

Keeping verse 20 in mind, people help their enemies expecting that God is going to heap coals on their heads in return. They entrust their avenges in God’s hand and wait for God to deal with them according to the injustice they have suffered. Are we waiting for God to spread us a table in front of our enemies?

Interpretation

It is true that God does not want us to interfere in His jurisdiction. Nevertheless, he wants to keep us safe from anger and revengeful actions. Above all, God expects us to forgive our enemies with true love in our heart.

The reason behind God saying that ‘it is mine to avenge; I will repay’ is because God has already planned to quench His avenge through His Son’s death on the cross by unveiling His love to the mankind.

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 25:6-8

Application

We have to trust God at all times. Without God’s command, nothing can happen in our lives or in this world. David had understood this truth very clearly and applied it in times of trouble.

When Shimei cursed David and pelted stones at him and all his servants, Abishai asked David’s permission to take off Shimei’s head. In response, David exhibited his tremendous amount of trust in God’s authority and calmed the situation down. Even through people who come against us, God wants to convey His powerful message.

But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”

2 Samuel 16:10

Let our love be without hypocrisy. If we hate evil, our love will be complete but unfortunately we love evil. That is the reason verse 20 appears as a source to heap burning coal on the heads of our enemies. On the contrary the whole context is about love and its enactment.

Pray unceasingly for the salvation of our enemies, setting aside our amusement time with beloved friends. This kind of prayer will bring down fire from heaven in order to burn unwanted or unholy things from our lives and also from the lives of people for whom we are praying. Apart from prayers, let us also keep doing good to others with good intention in our hearts.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

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