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Snotty Snubs and Hot Coals

Ever suffered a snub from someone snotty? Well, sure. Hasn’t everyone?

Maybe we’ve even been the snots that sent out the snubs.

A snotty snub recently caught me off-guard.

Looking back I realize I was sort of a sitting duck. I was overtired, over-scheduled, and overstressed. Isn’t that a dangerous condition?

Without dumping the dirty details, let’s just say someone old enough to know better tossed down the gauntlet for a game of dirty pool – so to speak.

What are we to do when someone picks on someone we love?

First, it’s always a good idea to do a reality check. Maybe that person deserved a confrontation, but not from the one who initiated the onslaught. 

Tough love can be valuable and needed, but it has to come from someone who has already built a foundation of love and trust, not just someone blowing off steam in a knee-jerk, blame-whoever-is-nearby blowup.

In this case, the attack was inappropriate and mean-spirited. And it went on and on and on.

Again, what are we to do?

Don’t we love to pull out the righteous indignation card when someone ticks us off, as if that gave us license to respond to evil in kind?

I don’t always do this right, especially when I’m feeling physically spent and emotionally overtaxed. I’ve had my share of overreactions, over the years. Trust me. You don’t wanna know.

Several ladies in the wonderful Bible study group I love covenanted to fast this week from various delights and pray for one another and those we love. Counting this commitment, I probably should have seen the test coming.

This time, God gave me pause for prayer.

I’d be willing to wager at least one of my small group pals was interceding at that time.

Our gracious God held me back for a couple of days before I could respond to the nasty onslaught, which had escalated by then into a flurry of vicious emails, directed at my loved one and filled with name-calling and overblown criticisms.

God’s grace filled the heart holes dug by hurtful words in my loved one and me. The two of us grabbed a few moments together to sort out the situation. We had the opportunity to affirm one another before addressing the hurtful one, allowing that response to become more deliberate, mature, and even-tempered.

This time, at least, my answer was aimed at conflict resolution and granting grace, rather than revenge or humiliation of the initiator. I even put it in writing, forcing me to choose words carefully and preserving confirmation of the content.

How did it turn out?

That person, who did not welcome the message, is still hopping mad. Even across the miles, I can almost feel the steam coming off her head. Maybe that’s what the Psalmist meant, when he said this:

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, NIV)

First, I wanna say that I am loathe to call certain people enemies, particularly those closest to us. But it is important to recognize enemy-like behavior. Clearly, King David knew what that was, as some of his most perilous conflicts involved those who ought to have been trusted allies.

Back to the topic: I’ve always wondered about that verse. If we really intended to love others, even those who acted like enemies, why would we want to heap hot coals on their heads?

Perhaps that’s not the point.

Hotheads are already steamed. Could the heaping coals refer to their own anger, or even to blushing embarrassment they might experience, if we don’t dump anything on them in return?

In any case, God sees.

And it should come as a huge relief to us to realize that we need not shoulder the daunting responsibility of serving as judge or jury over others’ behavior. He’s got this, so we’re free to look to our own proverbial eye-logs and skip the hot coals altogether.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  

On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:17-21, NIV)

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If we leave the rest to Him, He promises us a blessing.

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

(1 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Oh, God. Remind me, when I’m craving payback. If I can just wait for You, a better blessing is on the way. I’ve had blushing bouts and horrific hot flashes, so I know I don’t want hot coals on my own head. Help me keep my cool with a fresh wind of Your Spirit when things heat up and make me want to blow my top, even when it seems justified.

Happy Holidays
 by Ivan Kulikov
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1 comment:

  1. To know and remember that God's ways are always best. He is so...not man!