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
There are some instructions in the Scriptures that don’t seem to make sense – that is, if you take into account conventional wisdom and action. Loving your enemy is one of those things that we know we should do, but struggle with because we don’t understand how God could allow unjust people to take advantage of us, or to persecute us for our beliefs. But it does happen.
This truth - treating others like you would have them treat you, even if they are considered your enemies - is permeated in both the Old and New Testament. Listen to the words of Jesus and Paul:
You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbour and hate your enemy, but I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:34-44
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-19, 21
How can I do this? Does this make me a doormat, open to the abuse of each unjust, ungodly person who comes along and tramples upon me? How can I know when it is right to treat the undeserved with dignity and not react, trying to give them what they deserve?
Taking things into my own hands has never been the answer, even when treating the people well didn’t seem to give the desired result. As impossible as it is (in human terms), there are times when we are driven to our knees and call out, “God I can’t do this! You will have to do it through me.” It is one of the situations where we need wisdom, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to help us turn the world around us upside down.