"For if a man (or woman) finds his (her) enemy, will he (she) let him (her) go away unharmed? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done for me this day."
I Samuel 24: 19, Amplified Bible
"Do Good To Those Who Hate You"
"The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum."
In what practical ways can I love those whom I might call enemies?
What do you think Jesus meant when He said, "Love your enemy?"
"Whatever of outward service or obedience we render to God or man, if love is withheld, the law is not fulfilled."
F. B. Meyer
"You never so touch the ocean of God's love as when you forgive and love your enemies."
Corrie Ten Boom
Every once in a while here at Transformation Garden, there is a devotional with a topic that touches such a responsive cord in many of you, that it really surprises me. This week, as we have lived with David in the wilderness of his life and studied about the challenge he faced when he was confronted by the evil that King Saul heaped upon his head, so many of you have written to me and shared how you found, in your own lives, it has been difficult to return good for evil.
Believe me when I say I understand the emotions you may be feeling for the young man who hit Jim and me in our car accident, did this capricious act on purpose. In fact, his behavior, according to the police, was in response to a gang dare. Not only have our lives been challenged on a daily basis by the physical scars which will be a lifelong consequence of this event, but also, both Jim and I have had to work through the call of Jesus to love those who hurt you.
I'll freely admit, while I try daily to infuse my life with the aroma of my Father's forgiveness and then pass this gift on to others, I wouldn't be honest if I claimed it was an easy thing to do.
However, hidden away in the wilderness story of David, was for me a uniquely wonderful example of what loving your enemies does, not only for yourself but also in the lives of those you choose to heap love upon despite their treatment of you.
For the second time we are witness to an encounter between David and King Saul. Again, David had the upper hand. He could have killed Saul. However, in this particular incident, David cut off a piece of the fabric from Saul's garment, just as a way of letting the murderous king know how close he was to death. Interestingly, after this undertaking, David felt remorseful that he had touched Saul in any way - even in such a minor detail.
When both men were reunited and began to talk, it was the villainous Saul who said to David, "May God shower good upon you for what you have done for me today." Basically, Saul was saying, "Thanks for not killing me!"
I need to insert a thought here from Scripture that King Saul didn't appear to understand and this is that we aren't just rewarded for being kind and forgiving. There's a bigger principle at work. One Jesus emphasized when He was on earth and was sharing with us the specific characteristics that reflected His Father's kingdom. In Matthew 5: 43 Jesus brought it to our attention that people say, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But then He turned things upside down with these words, "But I tell you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for them who persecute you.'"
In the book of Proverbs, David's son King Solomon went so far as to give us this advice, "If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him (her) lunch; if he's (she is) thirsty, bring him (her) a drink. Your generosity will surprise him (her) with goodness, and God will look after you" (Proverbs 25: 21, 22, The Message).
So I ask you this question, "Do we treat our enemies kindly because God will bless us in return as Saul seemed to imply?" I'll answer this question with what Jesus continued to say in Matthew 5: 44, 45, "But I tell you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, to show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing.'" (Amplified Bible).
Obviously, in our Father's world, loving the unlovely is His natural way, which I might say, is completely opposite to the way our world currently works.
This week, after posting the devotional, "Evil Breeds Evil," which garnered so many comments, I received a note from one of my dearest friends who told me about a very difficult situation in her life right now where her forgiveness had to be so big, I was amazed at the grace and mercy she showed. However, as I read her note, I was reminded of a commentary I read several months ago. It was on the Sermon on the Mount. And the author, in studying each one of the Beatitudes made this observation about Jesus' words, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). The answer as to why we love our enemies is found in the word "obtain." What happens in our lives when we forgive those who have hurt and harmed us is this. As the Greek translation of the word, "obtain," shows, it doesn't mean our good works purchase God's blessings. It doesn't mean a tit-for-tat that God owes me something because of my stellar behavior. Instead it means that I'm showered with heaven's compassionate grace. A gift I did nothing to warrant. A gift I did nothing to deserve. This is why Jesus told us that when we love an enemy and don't return evil for evil, we are giving those around us, a view into His heart and His kingdom, for this is how God treats us. We are failures but He loves us anyway. And when we were "far off" He came to each of us and embraced us and loved us. Isn't this how we, who call ourselves Christians, want to treat everyone we meet? Loving an enemy lets others know that this is how my Father's kingdom in heaven works. What a contrast to life on this earth!
"(She) who is filled with love is filled with God Himself."
Augustine of Hippo
"Almighty God, have mercy on all that bear evil will, and would harm…by such tender, merciful means as Thine infinite wisdom can divine…May we live together with Thee."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.