Journey in the Word

Karen Ingrid Clark

Walking in Wisdom – Wisdom in Relationships

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Week Three – Day 5  – Friday, February 3, 2017wk03d05

Read Proverbs 24:17 and 25:21-22   SOAP Proverbs 25:21

PROVERBS 24:17 17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,

PROVERBS 25:21-22 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, 22 for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

O – Loving enemies…. This is the tough relationship. What are we called to do in regards to those who hate us? First of all, not to rejoice when they go through hard times, thinking “they got what they deserved.” Not to be happy when they fail. BUT – rather, meet their needs (whether it be physical, or otherwise). What does this do? It “heaps burning coals on their head.”

That was always confusing to me. Heap burning coals?? What does that mean? I remember a story that I read as a child in “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories” about a little boy and a bully. His father told him to “feed” his enemy and in so doing would “burn the meanness right out of him.” That phrase stuck in my mind through many years! It was a story that I read to my second graders – with the same phrase – that we discuss. But – as an adult what does it mean??

God calls us to love. Period. It is in so doing that calls us apart, makes us different from the rest of the world. Throughout the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, we are called to love. Love our neighbor. Love our enemy. Love those who persecute us. But – we are also told that God is the determiner of justice, no matter what happens here on earth. THAT is what is difficult.

It was good to read (again) that when we love, we are LIKE OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. (Matt. 5:45) Isn’t that the goal? To be like Him?

A – I don’t have many enemies. And, in this point in time, I don’t have any. Well, two exceptions. Our neighbor next door is not thrilled with us. His dog bit me last summer, in OUR yard. We had to report it. The dog officer has since visited his house, for our report, and for others as well. We were beginning to develop relationships with his children, about 8 and 10 years old. They would use our hilly driveway with their bikes, come over for marshmallows, and even helped rake our yard once. After the biting incident, they wouldn’t even wave to us when they got off the bus. We kept trying. We kept waving. Paul even brought cookies over at Christmas time (I was ill at the time). I pray that we will develop ways to “feed” them, to envelope them, to befriend them even. We are called to love our neighbors, and they ARE our neighbors.

The other exception is all those who rant on Facebook. They may not be “friends” or even “enemies”, but I am called to love. Recently, I have decided that I will not respond to negative postings. This was even before the election events. But, how am I called to love in this situation? How do I respond to rants? How do I respond to the comments of a gay brother and his rights? Is “not commenting” enough? How do I respond in love? Or not? Do I pick and choose? That is a matter of prayer. Is it simply commenting on family photos that are not rights oriented?

Responding to enemies goes way beyond Facebook and neighbors with dogs who bite. It is those who disagree with us, hurt us, talk about us, demean us. We may be called to do more and more of this as our society becomes more and more intolerant to Christians. THEN, how will I respond??

Why do you think Jesus calls us to serve those who we consider our enemies? What benefit can it have to us? Why? So people can see the love of Christ. In us. It is SO against what the world believes – to love enemies and to serve them. If we as believers love our enemies, will it make them think? Will they see Christ in us? Will they turn from their ways? Will they wonder? We love, because HE first loved us. I John 4:19-21 states, “19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” We are called to love. Period. The hard part is: HOW? How do I demonstrate this –and live it out?

P – Father God, thank You for Your word, that sheds light on our world. Thank You for being God. I realize that I do not have the wisdom to think through all these issues. How DO I respond to rants? How DO I love our neighbors in the house next door? How DO I respond to those whose opinion is so different from mine, or what is based on the Word? Father, grant me wisdom. Help me to know what YOU would do, what YOU would want me to do.

Bible references and notes: (lumina, Constable’s Notes)

Proverbs 18:19 A relative offended is harder to reach than a strong city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a fortified citadel.

Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I will pay back evil!” Wait for the Lord, so that he may vindicate you. Proverbs 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice,

Matthew 5:40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? ©NET
Romans 12:20 Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. ©NET

Constable’s Notes: Clearly the point of this proverb is to return good for evil (cf. Matt. 5:40-46; Rom. 12:20). Such conduct will bring blessing from God and remorse to the evildoer. Still what does heaping burning coals on the head of the abuser mean? Evidently this clause alludes to an ancient custom. When a person’s fire went out at home, he or she would go to a neighbor and get some live coals to rekindle the fire. Carrying the coals in a pan on the head involved some danger and discomfort for the person carrying them, but they were an evidence of the neighbor’s love. Likewise the person who receives good in return for evil feels somewhat uncomfortable even though he receives a good gift. His discomfort arises over his guilt for having wronged his neighbor in the first place. So returning good for evil not only secures the blessing of God (v. 22b), it also convicts the wrongdoer of his ways (v. 22a) in a gentle way.

Love Your Enemies – (video with words) –


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