Jesus taught hard lessons during his sermon on the Mount when He said: “You have heard that it is said; you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44. But, why? Jesus went on: “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,” Mathew 5:45. Why should you want to love those that hate you? Because in doing so you are of like nature with your Father in heaven who is indiscriminate in His love, pouring out the rain on both the good and the wicked.
Jesus said that you have heard that it was said: “Love your neighbour.” The religious leaders who are the experts in law had interpreted this command to ‘love your neighbour’ to mean one to love only those that love you; only loving your friends, and family; loving those who are kind to you and not loving those who hate you. Their teaching was, of course, a perversion of God’s word. Jesus corrected, and then added to their teachings. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” When we love our enemies, we are emulating God the Father. Usually, children emulate their parents. In like manner, we are supposed as children of God to be like our Father, our Heavenly Father. Jesus said when we love others, we are like our Father in Heaven.
You must resist the natural response of paying back evil for evil. The brothers of Joseph sold Joseph into slavery to the Ishmaelites soldiers and reported to their father that a wild animal had killed him (Genesis 37).
Saul chose 3000 soldiers out of all Israel to pursue David (1 Samuel 24), while David had 600 soldiers. One day it happened that as David was running around for safety, he entered into a cave in the wilderness of Engedi to hide. As Saul pursued David, he needed to rest, so he coincidentally entered into the cave David was in. Saul did not realise that he was in the company of his sworn enemy.
David’s men quietly rejoiced: “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do with him as it shall seem good to you,” 1 Samuel 24:4.
David secretly arose and came to Saul, but instead of cutting off his head, he cut off the edge of his robe. David’s men must have been disappointed as they watched their leader return with only the edge of Saul’s garment instead of his head.
The Bible said that David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul and so, Saul left the cave unhurt. David resisted the natural response to pay evil for evil, but instead preferred to wait for God’s time to deliver him from his enemy.
• Today’s nugget: Restrain yourself from doing harm. Prayer: Lord help me to restrain myself from doing harm.