“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22).

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Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s formal table: Pride and Prejudice (2005).

One night, the Holy Spirit spoke to me; in fact, I can still hear His gentle words spoken in that brief moment. I see now that the specific way in which the Lord would come to humble me was not what I thought that night, and not so that I would be burdened with excessive sorrow or shame, but rather, He humbled me for my good. Although I still feel as though my pride might kill me, in truth, I recognize now God clearly working in what happened the following morning. The Spirit led me to Proverbs 25:21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” The apostle Paul is referring to this passage in Proverbs in Romans 12:20 when he tells believers to overcome evil with good, by repaying every offense or discourtesy with a kindness. The whole heaping “burning coals on his head” isn’t nearly as punitive as it may seem. Turns out when someone needed to borrow some live coals to restart their fire, giving them hot coals in a pan to carry home (on his head) was an act of kindness, not revenge, which should surely characterize the children of God.

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son’” (Hebrews 12:5-6). When I read words like discipline or chastens, I first thought of punishment, but in these passages, I understand that the words reference training, which includes: instruction, discipline, correction, and warning. Other times discipline is a result of wrongdoing, yet no less encouraging. “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” (Revelation 3:19). Regardless of the exact circumstances in which brings discipline, whether it be wrongdoing or not, the common theme is God’s love. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). Moreover, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Throughout 2019, I have wanted to give up, walk away from places and circumstances, and from people with whom, God has placed me, but then I find myself again led to passages like Proverbs 3:11-12 where God warns against losing courage under His rebuke. Therefore, even if one day I find that I need to part ways so as not to stumble, or God leads me down other paths, the parting must be done so in peace, not in resentment. Take Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:35-41), I doubt their split was rooted in pride, personal ambition, or hurt feelings, and oh my, is that ever a difficult lesson, because unlike Paul and Barnabas that day, I find myself often struggling with all three, not that I am comparing myself to Paul or Barnabas. I am painfully aware of the enemy’s schemes, and I do not wish to be outwitted by him (2 Corinthians 2:11), at least not any more than I already have been. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). I’ve set my course for 2020, so now to see where God directs my steps.

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