Many years ago, a young woman married a man, but because of their youth, they needed to begin their marriage by living with his parents. From the very first day there seemed to be a power-struggle between the new bride and her mother-in-law. Finally, it reached the point to where the young woman decided to do something drastic.
She went to a man in town who was known for herbal medicine. She explained her situation and asked if he had something that she could use to secretly poison her mother-in-law. The man promised her that he had a special herb that could do the job, but it would take time for it to work. “However,” the man cautioned her, “in order to avoid any type of suspicion, you must make sure that you are kind and friendly to her. If you continue to act as you have always acted, someone might accuse you of murder. Volunteer to cook many of the meals and put a little bit of this herb in her food each day. It will take several weeks, perhaps even months for the toxin to work, but eventually enough of it will be in her system to rid you of your problem.” The woman thanked him for the special potion and promised to do exactly as he had advised.
From that day forward she cooked many of the meals, cleaned the house, and treated her mother-in-law with great respect. One day she realized that she no longer hated her. Their relationship had changed. She found that she loved mother-in-law very deeply and she knew that that her mother-in-law loved her as well. They had become the best of friends.
Quickly she ran to the man and begged for an antidote. The man smiled and reassured her that there was nothing to worry about. “What I gave you was not a poison, but a mixture of herbs that would improve her health. The only poison was the poison in your heart and only love can destroy that kind of evil.”
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:17-21)