If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)
Enemies? Surely none of us has an enemy! Yet sometimes we do. Throughout life there are times when we find ourselves in conflict with others. How should we respond to our enemies?
For many of us, our first reaction may be to retaliate. Even the Bible says, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!” Yet the Bible also says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) Rather than retaliating against our enemies, we should seek to restore our relationship with them. How do we do this?
Solomon tells us that if we find our enemy is hungry, we should feed them. If they are thirsty, we should give them something to drink. Though these actions may seem unnatural for many of us, they are the way of Christ. Consider what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
As children of God, we should seek to live and act like our heavenly Father. How does God respond to His enemies? Though God has every right to destroy His enemies, the Bible says that He reaches out to them in love. We read from the book of Romans, “…while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son…” (see Romans 5:10) Rather than retaliation, God seeks reconciliation. Even though we deserved to die, God sent His Son to die in our place
Though we may feel like lashing out at our enemies, Jesus tells us that we should love them. Kindness rather than cruelty will best demonstrate to them that we are a child of God.