This is the last sermon in the series in Proverbs. This sermon is for Wednesday, April 1st, 2009.
Everyday Wisdom part 27
Dealing with three types of people part C
Two weeks ago we began looking into Proverbs 25 teaching on the subject, “Dealing with three types of people.” Proverbs 25 is very practical, as is most of Proverbs. And it gives us good, wise, practical counsel how to deal with these three types of people.
Two weeks ago we looked at dealing with those in Leadership. Last week we looked at how to deal with friends and neighbors.
This week, we are going to look at how to deal with our enemies. Proverbs 25 has some very important things to say concerning these types of people we may come across. And not only Proverbs 25, but there are several passages that deal with how we should respond to those who would be considered our enemy. Let’s begin by looking at our primary text.
Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV – 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
Our biblical response to our enemy.
Proverbs 25:21 NIV – If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
When you have been wronged, it is very natural to lash out. It’s human nature to want to defend yourself when accusations fly. It is also natural for bitterness to set in and to hold on to grudges. We don’t like to be falsely accused and many times we want justice, and even vengeance.
Well, what does the bible our response should be? Let’s look at a few.
• Vengeance must be left in God’s hands.
Romans 12:19 ISV – Do not take revenge, dear fiends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.”
We are not the instrument of vengeance – God is. So let God be the one to move in wrath if He so chooses, not you.
• As followers of Christ – we are to be instruments of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ISV – 18 All of this comes from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 For in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself by not counting their sins against them, and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are Christ’s representatives, as though God were pleading through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God!”
God sent Jesus to earth to reconcile the world to Himself through the cross. In Christ, He no longer holds our sins against us. Neither should we hold a grudge against those who have sinned against us. We are Christ representatives on earth, and He has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
• We must be gentle in trying to restore those who sin.
Galatians 6:1 ISV – Brothers, if a person is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should restore that person in a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourself so that you are not tempted as well.
We should not use manipulation, bitterness, anger or other methods to try to restore, we should do so in a spirit of gentleness.
• If at all possible, meet the need of your enemy.
This goes back to our Scripture text. It is best to try to overcome evil with good, not return the evil in kind.
Let’s go back to Romans 12 and see what Paul says further.
Romans 12:16-21 ISV – 16 Live in harmony with each other. Do not be arrogant, but associate with humble people. Do not think that you are wiser than you really are. 17 Do not pay anyone back evil for evil, but focus your thoughts on what is right in the sight of all people. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people. 19 Do not take revenge, dear fiends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.” 20 But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him. For if he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will pile burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
Let’s break this passage down to see what our reaction to those who oppose us should be:
o Do your best to live in harmony and peace with them (vv. 16 & 18).
o Don’t be arrogant and think to highly of yourself (v. 16).
o Associate with the humble (v. 16).
o Don’t payback the evil done to do you in kind (v. 17).
o Focus your thoughts on doing what is right (it all begins in the mind) (v. 17).
o Leave revenge in God’s hands (v. 19).
o Meet the enemies need if at all possible (v. 20).
o Overcome and conquer evil by doing good (v. 21).
This is not the easy way, nor the flesh’s way, but it is God’s way.
• If reconciliation cannot be brought about, then separate.
There are a few reasons listed in the New Testament concerning breaking off fellowship. Let’s look at a few:
o Unrepentant sin.
1 Corinthians 5:1-5 ISV – 1 It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, and of a kind that is not found even among the Gentiles. A man is actually living with his father’s wife! 2 And you are being arrogant instead of being filled with grief and seeing to it that the man who did this is removed from among you. 3 Even though I am away from you physically, I am with you in spirit. I have already passed judgment on the man who did this, as though I were present with you. 4 When you are gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus and my spirit and the power of our Lord Jesus are present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the Day of the Lord.
This requires dis-fellowship or removal from the church if open sin is not repented of. But notice that restoration is still possible. It was for this person.
2 Corinthians 2:6-8 ISV – 6 This punishment by the majority is severe enough for such a man. 7 So forgive and comfort him, or else he will drown in his excessive grief. 8 That’s why I’m urging you to assure him of your love.
o False Doctrine.
1 Timothy 6:3-11 ISV – 3 If anyone teaches false doctrine and refuses to agree with the healthy words of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teaching, 4 he is a conceited person and does not understand anything. He has an unhealthy craving for arguments and debates. This produces jealousy, rivalry, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and incessant conflict between people who are depraved in mind and deprived of truth. They think that godliness is a way to make a profit. 6 Of course, godliness with contentment does bring a great profit. 7 For we did not bring anything into the world, and surely we cannot take anything out of it. 8 So as long as we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with these. 9 But people who want to get rich keep toppling into temptation and are trapped by many stupid and harmful desires that plunge them into destruction and ruin. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with much pain. 11 But you, man of God, must flee from all these things. Instead, you must pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness.
If you cannot agree with what the Pastor of the church preaches, or what is the teachings of the church, then it is best to leave and pursue the things of God, not cause division by stirring up controversy.
o Stirring up controversies.
Titus 3:9-11 ISV – 9 But avoid foolish controversies, arguments about genealogies, quarrels, and fights about the law. These things are useless and worthless. 10 Have nothing to do with a person who causes divisions after you have warned him once or twice. 11 For you know that a person like this is corrupt and keeps on sinning, being self-condemned.
o Disagreements in direction.
Acts 15:36-41 ISV – 36 Some days after this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers in every town where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” 37 Barnabas persisted in wanting to take along John, who was called Mark, 38 but Paul did not think it was right to be taking along the man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them into the work. 39 The disagreement was so sharp that they parted ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, 40 while Paul chose Silas and left after the brothers had commended him to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia and strengthened the churches.
Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement concerning Mark. It evidently was pretty severe. So instead of become bitter toward one another, they chose to separate and part ways. On a side note, relationship was re-established with Paul and Mark later in Paul’s life.
2 Timothy 4:11 ISV – Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry.
The results of Biblically responding to your enemy.
Proverbs 25:22a NIV – In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head…
Heaping burning coals on their head is not talking about them being in anger. In the Ancient middle east when someone did something wrong, as an act of grief, may people would cover up warmed up coals and carry them on their heads.
I believe this is what Solomon is referencing. God will take your biblical response and began to work on your enemy, with the hope of forgiveness and reconciliation being established.
God’s response to those who Biblically respond to their enemy: He rewards them.
Proverbs 25:22b NIV – and the LORD will reward you.
Ours is not the timing for reconciliation, ours is the obedience. God will take care of the timing, but if we continue to obey and respond biblically, God will reward our obedience to His word. It may be in reconciliation with our enemies, it may be in some other way, the point is, respond according to the Scriptures, and the Lord will take care of the rest.
We could continue in our series in Proverbs, but we are going to end here. It is my prayer that you have been blessed by the practical wisdom found within this book of the Bible.