Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:44
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, ” – Matthew 5:44
As Christians, we are called to love everyone, just as Christ did when He was down here. Of course, we are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34. He commands us to love each other. We are all one in the body of Christ. There should be no enmity between us, but we should be compassionate with each other. In fact, we should see others as better than ourselves. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;“ Philippians 2:3
Also, we are to love the lost. We do this by showing them the love of Christ, and the way to salvation. This is why we are here. To reach out to all who are lost and guide them to Christ. He does not want anyone to remain unsaved but wants all to come to salvation. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
However, there is one area that is most difficult, but is no less important. And this involves our focus verse. We are to love our enemies. We are to love all who treat us badly. Paul put it very clearly. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20. So, we are to meet every need they have as well, with compassion. However, what does it mean to heap burning coals on his head? Sounds like a bad idea, however, this is a true blessing as well. Note these verses in proverbs. “If your enemy is hungry, give him food 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. Notice the similarity of the verses. No doubt Paul was quoting this verse.
Also notice though that heaping hot coals on the head was a blessing back then; note “and the Lord will reward you”. When Proverbs was written, people heated their homes and cooked with fire. But sometimes, a person’s fire would go out during the night, and before they could cook their breakfast, they had to go to a neighbor’s house to get a coal so they could relight their fire. Proverbs 25:22 teaches that if the fire of your enemy goes out, and they come asking for a coal to relight their fire, instead of turning them away or giving just one, we should be extravagantly generous. How? By us giving our enemy so many burning coals they must carry them the way burdens were carried in the Middle East: in a container on the head. Then they can go back and immediately bake their bread without having to wait for the wood to become suitable coals for cooking. A much different way of looking at the heaping hot coals verses. This is the love we should have for our enemies.
As the focus verse says, we are to love our enemies and pray for them. We are also to meet their needs the same as we meet the needs of our brethren. By doing so, it gives us the opportunity to share the love of Christ through words, and by deeds where they will see our light shine into their darkness, and it may turn an enemy into a true friend.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.