Sunday, June 29, 2008

Killing With Kindness?

Drawing from Romans 12:14-21 (Cross Reference @ Proverbs 25:21,22)

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[
b]says the Lord. 20On 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."[c] 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:16 Or willing to do menial work
Romans 12:19 Deut. 32:35
Romans 12:20 Prov. 25:21,22

One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:20. Not because of any desire to “kill with kindness”. No. I like it, because of the rich custom and tradition of ancient cultures that is on display in these verses.
It is not characteristic of Jesus to suggest cruelty and strife. Nor does Paul speak things that are not consistant with Christ’s teachings (on occasion he confesses his thoughts, aside from the character of Christ) and the over arching theme of love for God and the human family.

The idea of “doing” kindness to your enemy is in hope that your kindness will soften the heart of an enemy.

An Egyptian expiation ritual, as an outward expression for a repentant heart is seen in this quote from Proverbs 25:21-22. When an Egyptian wished to express his repentance, he would carry a pot of red, burning coals on his head as an expression of his changed heart. (Zondervan NIV Study Bible ©1985, 1995, 2002 by Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, U.S.A. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2002107776, Text Note under Proverbs 25:22 in foot note pg. 995)

The one word that gives us some incite to the possibility of Paul’s effort to site this kind of expression of repentance is (puros - fire). Fire (Purose) is genitive, belonging to something. “Fire” is used figuratively to express (someone's) various circumstances of (some one's) severe trial.

So, when we do our acts of kindness, we should do them with the intention of hoping to influence someone for the better. Not cause them resentment, or take pleasure in their resentment.
" General Assistance: A fourth view some have is that in ancient times when someone’s fire went out, they would travel around the village with a basket on their head, and the neighbors would each put one coal in so that they would have enough coals for a fire. This is mentioned in The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.961."

I had discussed this with a Nazarene missionary to Turkey. We talked about the custom listed above for: General Assistance. I told him I have never studied Hebrew, so, I can not say for certain. However, (I asked) if we look at Proverbs 25:21-22, would it not make more sense considering the custom to assume the verse should be stated as something like: “21If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
(Then in verse 22, having considered the custom) 22 in the same way, you will heap coals on his head. (meaning to share your fires hot coals with your neighbor whom will carry them to his home in a container on his head)?

My friend said, “Of course! That is exactly what the scripture means, with the custom being there for imagery.”


Rebecca said...

Well hello, I don't know if I responed to your comment yet. So I decided to write to you again.

I am now currently working on a blog called,"Memoirs of a Cystic Fibrosis Patient."

Since I have CF and people struggle to relate I wanted to write it out, for my clarity as well.

Dealing with the pursuit of my dreams that God has given me while this disease chokes the life from me. Write back when you can.

jeleasure said...

I do not recall writing to you. I am sorry. Can you fill me in on what I wrote?
I do recall seeing your profile on the profile pages. Maybe under Christianity or Bible Study or something like that.
If you want to discuss some serious issues concerning our relationship with God. Write back.
The primary reason I am blogging is to promote my manuscript opposite "Journaling For Growth". The manuscript is called "Love One Another". You can find it linked to Journaling For Growth or enter and you should end up there.

satire and theology said...

21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I try to do this on-line, but it can be a challenge


satire and theology said...

Hey Jim,

A note on site meter...statcounter keeps more accurate stats. I dumped site meter recently. A blog link of mine, Army, gave me the tip in comments.

site meter

jeleasure said...

Hey Russ,
I sent an email. I forgot the title from the time I read it to the time I clicked out.
Statcounter. Yes, I will look into it.