“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink…And the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)
Perhaps the hardest thing anyone could ever do is to not retaliate when you are wronged — I mean really, really wronged. The kind of wrong where the world not only sees it as justified to retaliate but encourages it. Even Christians, yes Christians, those entrusted with the True Gospel, who understand grace, much of the time fail to react any differently. It is an amazingly difficult thing to do to forgive, to give the opposite of what we’ve received, to love and do good to our enemies, the people who hate us (perhaps we might even hate them too?). We justify retaliation as executing God’s Law, an “eye for an eye” or say that they’re getting what they deserve, or “I don’t deserve this, and I’m going to do something about it because I can.”
God’s command to love our enemies by doing good to them when they are in need (instead of taking the opportunity to kick them while they’re down) requires more than what we can muster within ourselves. We need the radical work of the Holy Spirit on our hearts to love with the exact kind of love that Jesus demonstrated when He did the ultimate good for His enemies when He took their punishment upon Himself and died for their sins.
Then remember who His enemy was…..it was YOU. What fuels the kind of love that the world cannot possibly comprehend but so desperately needs is what we have in Jesus.
“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
The next time you feel like retaliating when someone wrongs you, remember what Jesus did for you in spite of your sins against Him. He did not retaliate, giving you what you deserved but gave you GRACE instead.
Take a moment to let that sink in, then act in kind.