There once lived a little boy named Joey, who had a severe cleft lip on the right side of his mouth. He was a good boy, enjoyed his studies, helped around the house, and even swept the porch for the elderly neighbor who read the Bible to him.
However, the kids were cruel to Joey and posted odd drawings of him on telephone poles. At school, they poked their fingers in their upper lip and slurred their speech to mock Joey. But Joey remained quiet. He never fought back and never complained as he ate lunch alone every day.
Valentine’s Day approached, and Joey’s mother worried about her son. She knew the other kids would bring treats and cards to each other, but her son would receive nothing.
The day before Valentine’s Day, Joey rushed home, did his chores, and hurried out of the house with his piggybank under his arm. His mother asked him where he was going. “Don’t wor-ree ma; I’ll be back thoon. Mista George is takin’ me to da store,” Joey said as he raced to the neighbor’s house. The old neighbor waved his cane at Joey’s mother and winked at her.
Soon Joey returned with a box of chocolates for his mother and two boxes of Valentine’s Day cards and stickers for his fellow students. His mother did not know what to do. Half of her wanted to plead with him not to waste his time writing out cards, and the other half appreciated that he spent all of his allowance on her and his classmates.
Joey worked all night, wrote out each card, and included a fun sticker in each envelope. The next morning he hurried to the bus stop with his cards in his backpack. Later that day, his mother stood at the door with heart-shaped cookies and a cold glass of milk. She watched as the school bus stopped at the end of the street. Joey hopped out, yelling something his mother couldn’t understand. Then she heard him saying, “No, not one, no not one.” Her heart sank, and her fears materialized. As tears began to well up in her eyes, she noticed her son’s crooked smile and the joy on his face as he waved to Mr. George, the neighbor.
“Ma! No, not one, no not one!” he said.
“Not one, what?” she asked.
“Ma, I didn’t for-geeth anyone in my class. I remembered everyone.” Joey hugged her waist and snatched a cookie from the plate, laughing as he ran inside.
“Uh, son? Did you get any cards?” she whispered.
“Cards? Nah, it’s okay. Mista George told me it’s like pouring burning coals on their heads.”
“It’s okay ma, Char-ween and David are going to have lunch with me tomorrow!” With that, the young man ran up the stairs to his room.
Romans 12:20-21 says, “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. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (NASB)
GotQuestions.com says the following about burning coals, “Anyone can return evil for evil. But when a Christian does so, the watching world sees nothing different about our lives. It is not even clear who is right and who is wrong when we respond like the one who wronged us. But, when we follow Jesus’ instruction to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43–44) and return good for evil, the contrast is stark. Our kind and gentle reaction to hatred spotlights the depravity of the one who treated us poorly and leaves the hurtful person alone in his or her hatefulness. Nothing pricks the conscience of a hateful person like a soft, forgiving spirit in the one he has wronged (Proverbs 15:1). The “burning coals” that are heaped on his head could be a reference to the burning shame he will feel as his conscience works upon him.”
Most westerns movies have the same storylines: the main character has a loved one who dies, and the cowboy must avenge their death to remove the shame brought on the victim’s name. It’s an expected scenario because revenge is the norm. However, Romans 12:19 says we are to wait for the vengeance of God. When we relinquish our right to take revenge, we honor God by accepting His justice in His time. God sees all, and He will convict the heart of the person that has wronged you. If they are unbelievers, we must pray that God will use their evil action to cause them to repent.
Finally, the Bible shows us that Jesus is our example of overcoming evil with good. Matthew 27:12-14 says, when Pilate asked Jesus if he heard the chief priests and elders’ accusations, which questioned his character, Jesus spoke not a word and remained silent. It also says that Jesus’ reaction (or lack thereof) surprised the governor.
Imagine the kind of example we can be to Christians who act sinfully towards us, but also to an unbelieving world who lack role models as peacemakers. The world needs more Christians who will leave vengeance to God and fewer people who fight back and later regret their responses in front of a watching society.