Melting Your Enemy’s Heart

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 2, 2002

One day, at the age of twenty-eight, I was working as a salesman, driving my car through an industrial park outside of Chicago, Illinois.

Suddenly, a large semi-truck, trying to back into a receiving dock, pulled out in front of me, causing me to quickly apply my brakes to avoid hitting it.

Instead of apologizing, the driver of the truck glared down, looking at me from inside his cab and shouting profanity, calling me a name while giving me his middle finger! He looked straight into my eyes as if daring me to do something about what he had just done to me.

His belligerent invitation was clear, “You want some of this”?

Instantly, I became furious at his insult! For years after participating in college football and track, I religiously weight trained for two hours a day until I could bench press 335 lbs. and do 119 push-ups in a minute. There was no way I was going to take this type of treatment sitting down! I pulled my car over, got out, slammed the door shut, and asked him if “He had a problem he wanted me to fix.”

Upon seeing this, the driver responded by violently jerking his emergency brake on and jumping down from the top of his rig, yelling and threatening to physically harm me.

I quickly ascertained that this guy was obviously no slouch. He wore a crew cut, like a young Mike Ditka, and his shirtsleeves were rolled up past his deltoid muscles, exposing the tattoos he had all up and down the sides of his arms. He was only about 5’8″ tall, but he was also 5’8″ wide, and his physique resembled a coke machine. His cowboy belt buckle was bigger than my head, and his aggressive, herky-jerky movements reminded me of the Tasmanian devil character from the Bugs Bunny cartoons.

His hardened appearance looked as if he had definitely spent some time in prison.

Anticipating a fight, I tore off my suit coat and threw it to the ground. I planted my feet squarely beneath me, turned the left side of my upper body toward the driver, and put up my two dukes.

He shouted at me again as he came toward me, asking “What’s your problem?”

With my right fist cocked under my chin, I pointed at the driver with my left hand as I listed for him in categorical order the number of offenses I felt he had committed against me. When I finished making my points, he did something I will never forget.

He put his hands on his hips, dropped his chin to his chest, and stared down at the ground, as if he were thinking about something. After a long pause, he shook his head no, looked up and extended his right hand to me as if to shake mine.

“You’re right” he said, “I did those things to you, will you forgive me?”

“What”? I asked in disbelief.

He repeated himself and said, “You’re right man, I did all those things you said, will you forgive me?”

I was stunned as I stood there with my fists up, looking at his outstretched hand. “Are you serious?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yea, man,” he said, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” And he continued his offer to shake hands.

“Don’t take it,” I thought, “It’s a trick. The moment I agree to take his hand and shake it, he’ll sucker punch me.”

After a long awkward moment, I very slowly and carefully reached out with my left hand and shook the tips of his fingers, while my right fist remained cocked under my chin. As I shook the fingertips of his right hand, he said, “I’m sorry for what I did.”

I was shocked and began to feel embarrassed and convicted by my own behavior. “I’m sorry, too,” I mumbled, “Sometimes I just get too mad.”

He wished me a good day, climbed back up into his rig and drove off, leaving me standing they’re alone in the street, trying to understand what had just happened. We could have really hurt each other that day, but the driver of the truck wouldn’t allow it to happen.

I gathered up my suit coat from the ground and walked slowly back to my car. I was so humbled by the experience; I told the Lord I would never, ever lose my temper again while driving in my car. In the past twenty-seven years since that incident with the truck driver occurred, I’ve kept my promise.

Now, when people are rude to me in their cars I just smile and wave, get out of their way, and pray for their happiness.

Looking back, I can’t help but believe that the truck driver was probably like me, an infant Christian, too. Most truck drivers, as rough as he looked, don’t stop themselves in the middle of a heated confrontation and use words like “forgive” unless they are a Christian themselves, and in his case, a better one than I was that day.

The Bible says, in Proverbs 25:22, that “when you’re kind to your enemy, it’s like pouring hot coals on their head.”

I always used to think that verse meant you were punishing or hurting your enemy in some way, until it was explained to me that when your kind to your enemy, the hot coals you’re pouring on their head aren’t meant to hurt them but to melt your enemy’s heart.

That truck driver changed my life for forever that day when he asked me for forgiveness. As a result, he melted my heart out there in the middle of the street and made me a better man for it.

How many people’s lives have we impacted and improved recently by practicing “meekness”? Many times we as Christians are given the opportunity to melt the heart of an unbeliever by extending kindness to them when they don’t deserve it. If we’re going to win souls for Christ, we have to be ready to demonstrate “meekness” and restrain ourselves from hurting people back when they offend and mistreat us.

When Abraham Lincoln was finally elected President of the United States after being repeatedly attacked and personally ridiculed being called an ugly monster and a monkey by those running against him, his constituents urged Lincoln to finally use his new Presidential power to payback and “destroy his enemies”. Lincoln, a Christian refused and responded by saying “He destroyed his enemies when he made them his friends.”

He poured hot coals on their heads and melted their hearts!

If our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ could say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, as he was being beaten and crucified for our sins, we need to follow his example by loving, forgiving and praying for those who persecute us.

We need to melt our enemy’s hearts.

By - Jim Wehrheim
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22 comments
  1. Cathy Laws said:

    Did not expect to stumble across a road rage blog tonight, which is funny bc I wrote one a few weeks ago, but this is great! lesson learned: if you take the action to apologize first, more than likely the other party will follow suit. I’ve always said the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make that person into a friend!

    Like

  2. Thank you for this great story and illustration. Another way to remember our Savior on this good Friday when He prayed, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Happy Easter!

    Like

  3. This is a great story, reminding us of the One Who set our perfect example: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
    It also reminds me of a little poem I’ve heard and can’t remember all of:
    “He drew a circle that shut me out, ………………. a thing of naught
    but love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle that took him in.”

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    • I found it on Google;

      “He drew a circle that shut me out-
      Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
      But love and I had the wit to win:
      We drew a circle and took him In!

      By – Edwin Markham

      Like

  4. Great post! I’ve always struggled with the idea of praying for God to destroy my enemies. Your point caused a light to turn on in my heart – thank you! I’m going to think on this one for awhile. God destroys our enemies by making them our friends!
    Enjoying the journey,
    Debi

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  5. Great post! Man, what a difference the trucker’s decision made – not only for that day but for a lifetime.

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  6. What a story! What a rebuke to me! What a story for Good Friday: our Lord the ultimate example of loving His enemies into friends, indeed, into beloved sons and daughters of God! Thank you.

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  7. Great story and excellent application. As Christians we are required to be the first ones to back down, but it certainly doesn’t always come easily.

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  8. Jessica said:

    Wow. Reminds me of Dr. John Mitchell, a teacher I had 40 years ago at Multnomah School of the Bible (now Multnomah University) in Portland, OR. He was a rough and ready Scotsman, and he became a Christian as a machinist surrounded by guys with foul mouths. He had been known for his temper but he was determined not to let it get the better of him ever again.His fellow workers baited him and baited him to make him lose his temper and finally one day he did. He lost it good. He threw one guy out in the snow and wanted to “wipe the floor” with them all. He felt terrible all night over what he had done, feeling he had destroyed his Christian testimony in five minutes. The next morning he came to work and apologized to the men. As a result, they all wanted to know his God. “Why?” he said. “I blew it. I did everything I had vowed to God I wouldn’t do any more. I swore, I fought–”

    “Oh, that,” they said. “That’s the old Jack. We know him. That didn’t bother us. But when you came back and apologized to us–that’s a John Mitchell we’ve never met before. That proved to us Christ has made you a new man.”

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  9. Jeff said:

    I’ve been constantly inspired by your stories (and Dilbert), so I’m nominating you for the Very Inspirational Blog Award.

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  10. This is what Christianity is all about. Forgiveness. I had a similar experience myself years ago after an accident, no swear words just extreme anger which melted away when we realised we were both new believers.

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  11. Amazing story! Most acts of evil are the result of several decisions, not just one. At any time, you can step back and ask, “What would Jesus do?” Then, listen to Him and obey. Our lives are so simple. We have One Voice we should listen to and He will never let you down.

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  12. Anonymous said:

    I is stunning how a character suddenly shows up and snatches us from the inner wolf, for the sheep we are…

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    • Isabellapi said:

      It! not I.

      Like

  13. Reblogged this on The Grange Community and commented:
    After some vexing events in my life, I have been reading up on anger management and coping with being provoked. Here is a story worth thing about and see where it fits into our way of living the Christian life in this ‘me – now!’ world today. Either way let me know what you think?

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  14. Great post. I hadn’t known that the coals on the enemy’s head were to soften his/her heart.
    Many blessings,
    Tricia

    Like

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