“I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!” Matthew 25:40
How many times have I heard or read those words--in sermons, in infomercials, in pamphlets? However, over the course of our 40 years of ministry, I admit my attitude has become a bit jaded and my heart quite hard because of those who, although they have no love for Christ, have taken blatant advantage of the tenderheartedness of Christians. I have heard a lot of “hard luck” stories—some genuine, but many a rouse. After working in a ministry where folks in need refused to allow even a listing of our service times to be inserted into their free bag of groceries, a bit of anger and a measure of frustration mixed with a huge quantity of guilt in my heart.
Recently, as our church hosted a group of homeless men, these confused feelings resurfaced. While praying for direction, God led me to Matthew 5:44-45: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
In Matthew 5, Jesus describes perfectly what my attitude and actions should be toward everyone. I definitely needed an adjustment and God led me right to His Word to initiate that change.
To further instill what He expected of me, God highlighted Proverbs 25: 21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; If he is thirsty, give him water to drink. For in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head . . .”
But what does “heap coals of fire on his head” mean, Lord? I wondered. According to New Testament Greek scholar, Kenneth Samuel Wuest, heaping coals of fire on someone’s head was a great kindness, especially if the person had ill-treated you:
“In Bible times one needed to keep his hearth fire going all the time in order to insure fire for cooking and warmth. If it went out, he had to go to a neighbor for some live coals of fire. These he would carry on his head in a container back to his home. The person who would give him some live coals would be meeting his desperate need and showing him an outstanding kindness. If he would heap the container with coals, the man would be sure of getting some home still burning.”