“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22, ESV).
This advice from Solomon goes way beyond the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It’s more like the Golden Rule on steroids!
While it’s one thing to help a family member or friend in need or even to help the disadvantaged, according to this counsel you should give sustenance to your enemy, to a person who actually hates you!
When Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5:46) in the Sermon on the Mount, it’s clear that He was somehow reminding the Jews of this advice because He mentions the reward.
The Apostle Paul also makes attribution to this counsel in his letter to the Romans where he describes the characteristics of a true Christian (see Romans 12:9-21).
While biblical scholars may differ on whether “heaping burning coals” is an attempt to reform your enemy by heaping shame or by heaping blessings, what is clear is that you are admonished to exceed the minimum requirements of good behavior and the Golden Rule by helping not only those who love you but also those who hate you.
And if you do it then God will reward you.
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40, ESV)
- The Golden Rule (christianitymatters.com)