Loving Our Enemies

Deuteronomy 32:35 (RSV)
"Vengeance is Mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly."

Vengefulness is a part of the sinful nature human beings. But God has warned us that it is His prerogative to take vengeance, to repay. When someone takes revenge against another, that person might think that the matter is closed and victory achieved. But more often than not, revenge is followed by further vengeance. And the vicious cycle of hurting one another sometimes ends in irreparable damage to relationships, or in extreme cases even death.

The only way to avenge is to leave the situation in God's hands. Though we may consider someone an enemy, when we treat that person with the love of Christ, God takes care of the situation in His own best way. If hungry, provide your enemy with food. If thirsty, provide your enemy with something to drink. By doing so we show ourselves disciples of Christ, and we may yet turn an enemy into a friend, or at least into someone who will no longer troubles us.

A good example of this can be found in a story in 2 Kings 6:8-23. The king of Syria was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he would say he would set up camp in such and such a place. But Elisha, the prophet of God, would always send word to the king of Israel warning him not to go to wherever the Syrian army was camped. Naturally, the king of Syria was very upset and demanded to know who among his men was telling the king of Israel his most secret plans. It was then made known to him that the prophet Elisha was able to tell the king of Israel the very words he said in his bedchamber. So the king of Syria gave orders to find Elisha and seize him. When the word came back to him that Elisha was at Dothan, he sent a large army there and under the cover of night surrounded the city.

When the people of Dothan awakened the following morning, they found their city surrounded by Syrian forces. Elisha's servant in dismay wondered they could do, but Elisha told him not to be afraid because those with him and Dothan were greater than those with the king of Syria. To illustrate, Elisha prayed to God for his servant to see. And what he saw was a vast array of horse and chariots of fire around the Syrians. And when the Syrians decided to charge the city, Elisha prayed to God that they be struck blind. And so they were. Elisha went out to the Syrian soldiers and told them that they were on the wrong road and at the wrong city. He offered to lead them to the man they sought.

Elisha led the blinded Syrian army to Samaria, where the king of Israel was. Once inside the city, again Elisha prayed to God that the eyes of the men in the Syrian army be opened. And to their dismay they discovered that they were in Samaria. Deep in enemy territory and completely vulnerable. The king of Israel eagerly inquired of Elisha whether he could slay his enemies. But Elisha said no. Instead, he told the king to prepare a great feast for them and then send them home unharmed to their master. And so it was done. As long as Elisha was alive, the Syrians ceased their war against Israel.

Considering this story, we may wonder how anyone could do this. It is not part of human nature to feed an enemy. But Elisha and the king of Israel by their actions allowed God to avenge, and everybody ended up winning in the end. Romans 12:21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." When we return evil for evil, it begets greater evil. It engulfs us and our enemy together and brings about our ruin in the end. We must learn to be as merciful as Christ is to us so that we may able love even our enemies. This calls for more words of encouragement and blessing and less of words of negativity and condemnation. In this way both sides may be blessed.

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