Me: Prodigal, are you lying in hot coals?
Prodigal: NO…this is actually salt. I am trying to grab some of it so that I can grind it and cook with it.
Me: Sorry, I was just reading a verse about hot coals and I guess it was on my mind.
Prodigal: Why don’t you share with me what you were reading.
Dr. David Jeremiah in his book Slaying the Giants In Your Life talks about this verse
If someone makes us angry, we offer love in return. If someone threatens harm, we feel compassion for the forces that made him or her that way. Instead of retaliation, we offer redemption. Romans 12:20 says, “If our enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
I decided to get to the bottom of this passage, and what I discovered fascinated me. I found out about an old Egyptian custom. A person committed some kind of misdeed, and he felt the need to express his shame and contrition. To show everyone the burning shame within his heart, this person would place a pan of hot coals on his head.
That’s the actual background of this misunderstood New Testament passage. If someone wrongs you in some way, see what happens when you return right for wrong. The other person’s shame becomes as visible as a pan of hot coals sizzling on his head.
I know what you are saying and you think this makes no sense at all. How is this suppose to help me if I just let someone hurt me and take advantage of me? I can tell you that God has called me to do this when others set out to come against me in anger.
I was not filled with joy the moment God told me to do this. I wanted revenge. I wanted someone to hurt like, it hurt me. What I did not understand was that this was not about me. It was about something bigger. It was about God’s plan to perfect all of us as we journeyed toward Him. Praise God that I listened to Him, and I did not feed into an emotion of revenge. Something beautiful came out of hurt and that is more precious and joyful then any revenge!
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Jennifer Van Allen