Forgiveness, Revenge And Dealing With Enemies

By Paul Ejime*

From the open display of our religiosity, many would argue that they have no enemies. Or that they do not consider anyone as an enemy.

But what about those might consider or treat us as their enemies?

Whether or not we admit or acknowledge it, humans consider those who are not their friends as enemies. It could be a reflex response that comes rather unconsciously.

So, whether we admit it or not our sub-conscious mind could process and categorize some persons as our friends or foes.

We are most likely going to treat our friends friendlier than our foes.

More often than not, we would rain “hell fire” on our enemies and in the usual parlance of the Pentecostal denominations, “they must fall and die.”

Luckily, the Holy Books of most religions have very clear injunctions on how we should deal with our “enemies,” real or imagined.

For instance, today’s readings from the Book of Samuel 26:2-23 and Luke 6:27-38 are unequivocal.

In the later days of his Kingship over Israel, King Saul saw his popularity waning as young David gained in ascendancy ahead of his anointing as Saul’s successor.

Like many of us, Saul became jealous and envious of David, who as an unknown shepherd, had rescued his flock from the wildest of animals.

He crowned it all with the defeat of Goliath, the Philistine giant who had wanted to embarrass the whole Israelites. Laurelled after several battles, the women sang David’s praise. “Saul slays one thousand, and David ten thousand.”

This only intensified the enmity between both men, so much so that Saul hatched plots to eliminate David.

By the work of providence, Saul and all his men in pursuit of David got tired and fell asleep, hence the popular saying: “God giving your enemy into your hands.”

But David did not take advantage of a situation to pay Saul back in his own coin, even when his subordinates urged him to do so. He said it was wrong to lay his hands on God’s anointed.

Instead, David took the spear and water jar of the sleeping Saul.

From a distance on the other side of the mountain he called on Saul to send one of his servants to come and fetch the items.

Similarly, in the Luke’s Gospel, Jesus Christ admonished his disciples to “love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you.”

As if that was not hard enough, He further enjoined them: “To him, who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well.”

This must be one of the most difficult scriptural injunctions to obey. But in matters of Scripture and obedience to God there is no half measure.

It might be difficult to forgive or not to seek revenge against those who have wronged us, particularly those who want us dead, like Saul against David. Yet, that is exactly what God demands of us.

However, in turning the other cheek, God is not pushing us to take unreasonable risks!

He wants us to emulate David’s example. The battle is God’s to fight and give us victory. Saul and his troops did not sleep on their own accord. God made  Saul to fall into a deep sleep before David arrived to dispossess him of his spear and water jar.

If only we can obey God and allow Him to fight for us, our victory is assured!

There is no point for revenge, abuse, calling down hell fire on our enemies or wishing them dead. Instead, let us show everyone love and surrender every situation to God, the Alpha and Omega, the Omnipotent and Omnipresence, the All-knowing and the Mighty One in Battle.

He knows when to put our enemies to a deep sleep and how to turn the sling and stones in David’s hand into a battle-winning weapon. David actually warned Goliath that God would intervene on his (David’s behalf) before firing his slingshots.

More importantly, when we inhabit and show God’s love to others, there will be no enemies or battles to fight!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

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