Treat your enemy with kindness (Heaping Coals of Fire)


You will heap coals of fire on his head.

It’s not enough to simply leave your enemies alone; you must demonstrate God’s love towards them. ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you’ (vv. 21-22 NKJV).

What does it mean to ‘heap coals of fire on his head’?

Charles Swindoll explains that in ancient days, homes were heated and meals were fixed on a small portable stove, somewhat like our outside barbecue grills. Frequently, a person would run low on hot coals and need to replenish his or her supply. The container was commonly carried on the head.

So, as the individual passed beneath second-storey windows, thoughtful people who had extra hot coals in their possession would reach out the window and place them in the container atop their head. Thanks to the thoughtful generosity of a few folks, they would arrive at the site with a pile of burning coals on their head, and a ready-made fire for cooking and keeping warm.

‘Heaping burning coals on someone’s head’ came to be a popular expression for a spontaneous and courteous act one person would voluntarily do for another. When you treat an enemy this way, the Bible promises, ‘The LORD will reward you.’

You have a choice. You can experience the short-term satisfaction of retaliating and get into trouble with God for doing it, or show mercy and kindness and be rewarded by God for doing it. So, the word for you today is - treat your enemy with kindness.

Is 62-64, 1 Thess 2

Source: The Word for Today


Heaping Coals of Fire - A Figure of Speech

Paul says that if we give food and drink to our enemies, we shall be heaping “coals of fire on their heads.” To us this doesn’t sound like forgiveness, but like taking vengeance.

In the Bible lands almost everything is carried on the head – water jars, baskets of fruit, vegetables, fish or any other article. Those carrying the burden rarely touch it with the hands, and they walk through crowded streets and lanes with perfect ease. In many homes the only fire they have is kept in a brazier, which they use for simple cooking as well as for warmth. They plan to always keep it burning. If it should go out, some member of the family will take the brazier to a neighbor’s house to borrow fire.

Then she will lift the brazier to her head and start for home. If her neighbor is a generous woman, she will heap the brazier full of coals. To feed an enemy and give him drink was like heaping the empty brazier with live coals – which meant food, warmth and almost life itself to the person or home needing it, and was the symbol of finest generosity.

We, usually picture vengeance when we think of pouring hot coals on someone’s heads. The Jews and Arabs pictured something completely different … We must break some of our traditions, if we are to ever come to a deep understanding of the God of the Bible. It is full of beautiful pictures like this one.

Source: Daily Goodies: The writings of Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.


just simplified my thinking and enlightened me… :ok_hand:


Thanks for this. It’s an eye opener


I was reminded of this sermon today.