“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.
- Exodus 23:4-5
not gloat when your enemy falls;
when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
or the Lord will see and disapprove
and turn his wrath away from them.
- Proverbs 24:17-18
your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
- Proverbs 25:21-22
“What would you do if your worst enemy knocked on your door today and asked you for something to eat? Would you laugh and close the door in their face? Would you reluctantly invite them in and give them a sandwich? Or would you excitedly welcome them into your home and prepare them the best feast you could?
“Proverbs 25:21 offers some unconventional advice when it comes to interacting with enemies – feed him and give him water. The natural human reaction is to yell ‘absolutely not’ and shamelessly walk away. But this verse serves as a reminder that you are called to be different. You are called to something much higher. To bring out bread and water for your enemy is to provide them with the basic necessities of life while also showing respect and kindness. In doing so, you have the opportunity to soften your enemy’s heart and open the door for friendship to take place. You can overcome their evil with your good. Imagine what the world would look like if everyone acted this way!”
- Presidential Prayer Team Devotion
Yes, indeed, if everyone acted that way, we might resolve a world of woes. Yet, woes we have by the bushel basket load.
Forgiveness is hard, but this teaching is even harder. Everyone seems to think that this teaching started with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, but the Scriptures above are from the Old Testament. The last Scripture from Proverbs 25 is quoted in Romans 12:20. In fact, when talking of loving enemies, there is about equal reference to loving enemies or at least treating them with love, about one percent of the references to enemy or enemies.
When we look at some of the radical teaching of Jesus, He was in many cases quoting the Old Testament. Only the religious leaders of the time had enough education to know the Old Testament source.
In this day of fractures within each country and partisan politics throughout the democratic or parliamentary world, we need a little act of kindness done for our enemies to soften their hearts. In many ways, I feel that if the media took a week of vacation – quit throwing fuel on the fire – we might find that the opposition is not the ogre that the media portrays, and peace in our time might be found. There just seems to be too much fuel for that fire.
The classic photo of the counterculture of the 60s was when a hippie placed a cut flower in the barrel of a weapon held by a soldier, trying to keep the peace. Many have analyzed that scene from every angle, but can we take it at face value? Two seeming enemies shared a moment of peace. Really, they weren’t that different. Both wanted peace, just by different means.
Can we say the same for any presidential candidate running in the 2020 election, from any party? Just an olive branch placed upon one divisive issue of the other side. Not a capitulation. Not a surrender. Not a compromise, but a quiet word that if you are ready to seek things that we can agree upon, we can move our nation forward in peace (whatever nation we are talking about).
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.