Mega-successful TV chef Rachael Ray is hardly one of the elite. “She cannot cook like I cook,” commented her rival Martha Stewart. “She cannot craft like I craft.” Yet Rachael has won viewers’ hearts—not least of all because of her charitable approach to her critics.

Author and chef Anthony Bourdain felt this charity personally. “We know she can’t cook,” he wrote critically of Ray. “So what is she selling us? She’s selling us . . . the smug assurance that mediocrity is quite enough.” And how did Ray respond to these and other harsh words from Bourdain? She stated publicly that she loved his work, respected him greatly, and then booked his favorite band for her upcoming festival.

“This development has caused me no small amount of confusion,” Bourdain later admitted. “I don’t know whether to go out and shoot a puppy or send Rachael a fruit basket.” Ray responded by sending a fruit basket to Bourdain’s home, with a note asking him to refrain from shooting any puppies!

“Bless those who persecute you,” says the apostle Paul (Romans 12:14). “Never pay back evil with more evil,” he adds (Romans 12:17). In words that seem apt for bickering chefs, Paul then quotes a proverb: “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink” (Proverbs 25:21). Why? “You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:22). By returning blessing for curse, kindness exposes wrongdoing by its graphic contrast. This kindness can lead some enemies to repentance as they feel it expose their own behavior. (Sadly, for others, the good deed done will only add to evidence against them on judgment day.)

Rachael Ray was served harshness but dished out grace in return. Let’s do the same.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 37:1-36