Sweet Revenge: On the Heaping of Coals

“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.'” Romans 12:20

I love this bible message.

And it works.

It seems to be a bit contrary in the beginning, like, if I wanted revenge, why don’t I knock that person over the head with a nice big 2 X 4 and walk away with a smile?  (OK, I’ll admit, that image has crossed my mind once or twice…)

But here’s the thing.  It’s not near as satisfactory to hurt those who hurt you as it is to be KIND to them… with a smile.  I’m telling you, it’s wonderful.

Oh, I’m not talking about being a doormat.  No way.  It’s purposeful kindness, almost an in-your-face kindness.  Not mocking them or being insincere, but showing love to those who are absolutely wretched in their behavior towards you.

And why does this work as revenge?

Because we have the capability to make ourselves suffer far more than anyone else has the capability to do.  Our own minds can torture us relentlessly… guilt, depression, sorrow, unrest…  To those who are rational and somewhat healthy of mind and heart, they will come to their senses eventually when you are kind to them.  Their own guilt will cause them to suffer far greater than anything you can do to them.  I know as I have had people heap coals on ME.

But I have discovered recently that there are those who don’t even respond to persistent kindness… they could be relatives, people of a cult-like mindset (their loyalties are irrational) as I have experienced within the last couple of years, and people who are mentally ill.  What do you do then, if no amount of kindness and humility on your part ‘works’ with someone who has closed their heart to you in either illness or refusal to forgive and reconcile?

Keep being kind… even annoyingly kind.

The thing is, God is watching us, our hearts, every detail, and every action… and He sees the kindness even if the ‘enemy’ doesn’t care… and ‘His vengeance’ is always so much more clever and He is perfect in love and justice, where as we are always tainted in some way, even if minutely.  So I let Him do the work.  And then there’s the rule of nature: what goes around comes around.  Without you even doing anything.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I want to give some people a piece of my mind like the rest of ’em.  I get tempted often to expose people’s flaws and ‘get back’ somehow… but then I remember that darned plank in my own eye and it always stops me.  Maybe that’s what the plank is for anyway, to knock ourSELVES over the head with a 2 X 4 and remember that we aren’t even worthy to be alive.  We are alive today simply because of love.

So, yes, we must pray for those who hate us.

However, the coal heaping adds a little fun to the whole putting-up-with-cruel-people thing.

Do you have an example of victory through coal heaping that you would like to share?  I’d love to hear it.  I have a story coming up for a future post… and I am still laughing at how clever God is when we let Him do the work…

Happy heaping!




6 thoughts on “Sweet Revenge: On the Heaping of Coals

  1. Heh Heh… heaping… Never really thought about it much but it makes sense. What’s really interesting about the whole “be kind to your enemies thing” is it doesn’t always change the other person, but it changes you. We can only control our actions and re-actions to things. If you act in Love first it changes you for the better.

    (I am still guilty of envisioning the public humiliation of an enemy or two but you know, that is why God invented the confessional… eep!)


  2. I can’t recommend this little booklet enough…it’s Fr. Faber’s book called simply…Kindess. It’s amazing as you work through these things, you begin not to even feel angry any longer. And, for those who are the “hold outs”? Pray for them VERY HARD because in the final analysis as Blessed Mother Teresa says…it was never between you & them anyway, it’s always between you & God. So, therefore, it is between THEM and God. Which, makes it very scary as their souls hang in the balance…even those who would want to become saints, may most especially come up short when they’ve been cruel to others. As good Catholics, we do not shun, we do not gossip, we are not to be happy about anothers misfortune or anothers pain. We should be always praying, always hopeful for them, for souls hang in the balance. This is not an easy thing to do. Fr. Faber says that kind thoughts are the most difficult to accomplish but thinking of their souls helps me out a bit.

    I agree…a 2×4 and heaping coals is a tempting/comforting thought for our own sanity…but won’t it be grand when we perfect ourselves beyond that? Here’s praying for us all! LOVED the article, Shalimar…makes all the sense in the world & on a spiritual level as well.



    1. Elvira, it is wonderful to hear from you!! Thank you so much for your beautiful words both on this post and the previous one (I need to check out your website!) And, I need to read this book that you have told me about here and previously… Many blessings to you!! 😉


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