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Another Bible question - loving your enemy

(8 Posts)
EdithSimcox Sat 25-Jun-16 16:46:29

In Romans 12:20, St. Paul quotes Proverbs 25:21-22:
“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.” The bit in Proverbs, goes on "and the Lord will reward you".

What are the burning coals all about? One interpretation - it's about hell, and vengeance. If you treat your enemy well, God will ensure he gets his come-uppance. Not at all sure how that fits with mercy and forgiveness. Another thought - the enemy is shamed by the good treatment he receives (and is more likely to reform?). Neither very satisfactory. Any ideas anyone?

peachpudding Sun 26-Jun-16 16:35:06

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The proverbs quote is from Proverbs 25 v 21-22

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;
and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;
for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,
and the Lord will reward you.

I've always taken this to mean that by acting well others will be shamed into good behaviour. In my reading not come across the idea that this might be a foretaste of firestone and brimstone style hell but then I'm not in the conservative stream.

Lovelydiscusfish Sun 26-Jun-16 19:40:11

Yes, I have always assumed it implies they will burn with shame (blush) at their own poor behaviour in the face of your kindness.

SBGA Sun 26-Jun-16 19:43:24

I've been really angry at someone and they've reacted by being nice to me, which has taken the wind out of my sails and disarmed me. I think that's what it means.

You don't go to hell because someone was nice to you, because if that was true you would be able to earn your own place in heaven, which the bible is quite clear you can't. Eternal life is a free gift that you accept when you believe in him as seen in John 3: 16 (for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so who ever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

EdithSimcox Sun 26-Jun-16 22:51:41

Ok, thanks, pleasing to see that you all agree with my shame theory rather than my dad's vengence one! In his view, in Proverbs, it is God making sure that you get your vengeance, whereas Paul revises it to God gets his vengeance. I don't like it, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that hot coals are more likely to be a reference to hell than to blushing. But happy to go with shame smile

gabsdot Sun 26-Jun-16 23:12:14

I think it also has something to with purifying and sanctifying the person. There is a bit in Isaiah 6:6-7 where a live coal is laid on my mouth
" and thine iniquity is taken away and thy sins purged.
If a person is encouraged to repent due to the kindness and love shown by another then their sins will be forgiven.

SpinnakerInTheEther Mon 27-Jun-16 08:54:39

Also, if they remain your enemy, whilst you are nothing but loving towards them, it makes them more culpable. Their feelings towards you would have no legitimacy. They would be showing a lack of forgiveness over past actions (but only if they remain your enemy). This is what would be damaging.

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