Do you want a fool-proof, guilt-free way to get rid of your enemies? Well God has given a way in Scripture for you to be able to get rid of your enemies. Paul in Romans 12:20 quotes Proverbs 25:22 which says, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (ESV) Although numerous interpretations of this passage have been taken over the years, I believe that this passage is simply stating that acts of kindness done to your enemy shame him and bring him to a place of repentance. As Bible commentator James Denney wrote, “The meaning of ‘heaping burning coals on his head’ is hardly open to doubt. It must refer to the burning pain of shame and remorse which the man feels whose hostility is repaid by love. This is the only kind of vengeance the Christian is at liberty to contemplate.” Greek scholar A. T. Robertson likewise wrote that the burning coals were a “metaphor for keen anguish.” The fifth century Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, similarly said, “We should incite those who have hurt us to repentance by doing them good.” This view corresponds to an ancient Egyptian custom. When a person wanted to demonstrate public contrition, he would carry on his head a pan of burning coals to represent the burning pain of his shame and guilt.
This passage provides a dramatic picture of how God deals with man in goodness to lead him to repentance. As Romans 2:4 states, “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” (ESV) Likewise, in the verse we have been examining, we are commanded to do good to our enemies to produce a state of repentance in them. Martin Luther comments, “God converts those whom He does convert by showing them goodness. It is only in this way that we can convert a person, namely, by showing him kindness and love.” Wasn’t this the very way that God responded to His enemies at Calvary? As Bible commentator John Phillips has written,
The cross represents the greatest manifestation of the hatred in the heart of man toward God and at the same time the greatest manifestation of the love in the heart of God toward man. That very spear which pierced the Saviour’s side drew forth the blood that saves.
So do you have enemies? Do you want to get rid of them? Try showing kindness to them! Then not only will you have gotten rid of an enemy, you may just also have gained a friend!