This was a sermon I heard sometime ago.

As Christians living in the world, we meet many people. There are the good, the bad, the reasonable as well as the unreasonable. Indeed, there will be people who treat us with kindness, while some people treat us like enemies.

We all encounter people who are mean and unkind to us at some point of our lives.

Sometimes we wonder, how should we as Christians, deal with such people?

Indeed, man of the world like to say a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye. I will gladly return the favor you have given me. But we know, that as Christians we ought to listen to the words of God. All of us are well aware of the rules “To love your enemies and to forgive them 70X7 times.

But as human beings, we know that it is a hard requirements for man to meet. We are all aware of the requirements of Jesus, and if Christians are able to do it. We will become the son of God.

Jesus once said

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father 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.”- Jesus (Matt 5:43-45)

Indeed, the world believes in the idea of loving neighbor and hating your enemies. But as Christian, we are suppose to go one step further, to love our enemies as well as our neighbors.

This is good, but difficult. Its main difficulty lies in the the point that we need to love those who are mean to us. It is always easy for us to love people who love us, because these people deserve our love. But when it comes to people who treat us badly, we will say that these people do not deserve our love.

By the standard of the world, what Christians are doing are silly and foolish. If we were to follow the values of the world, we will find it hard to love our enemies. But if we follow the principles of God, we will find it worthwhile to follow the instructions of Jesus.

The Way Of The Father

Once Confucius was having a discussion with his students about  interpersonal relationship. So Zi Lu, said “I would treat a person well, only when he treats me well. If I am mistreated I would fight back.”. Confucius replied “That is the way of a barbarian (“野蛮人之道”).

Then Zi Gong shared “I will be good to whoever who treats me well, but if I am mistreated, I will avoid confrontation and to guide him”. Confucius replied, “This is the way of a friend” (“朋友之道”).

Yuan Xian replied “I will treat whoever who is nice to me well, and I would continue to do so even when they mistreat me.” Confucius smiled, and said “This is the way of a good man” (“好人之道”).

So what will our response be?

Jesus said that since we are the children of God, we ought to follow the way of our heavenly father. And how does God treat the people of the world? God treated evil man and good man in the same manner. For he allowed the sun and rain to fall on both of them.

Sunlight and Rain are both essential for life to grow. They are the basic things for humans to survive. Perhaps we ought to ask, why did God give this for evil man?

We know in Jn 3:16 that God loves the world, and he does not want any one to perish. He would rather a sinner to repent than to face his wrath. God purpose is to give him a chance to repent, and perhaps be saved. He gave everyone a chance, including the wicked man.

If we are indeed the children of God, we ought to understand his will, and to give everyone a chance to repent. At the very minimum, we could at least pray for them.

Loving your enemies doesn’t mean we need to run forward to embrace them, but we could pray for them. For if we were to pray for them, our hatred and anger will slowly dissipate. For it is not possible to hold on to hatred while praying for the people we hate. By giving them a chance, we are in fact giving ourselves a chance.

If we could love our enemies, will God not love us even more? Jesus knows that we are following his instruction to our utmost.

The world may view our actions as foolish and silly, but that is because they are unaware of the will of God. But if we want blessing and grace from our heavenly father, we ought to pray for them, and to ask God to forgive them.

The  Wisdom To Pray For Our Adversities

There was a scene from the show “Fiddler On The Roof” where the townspeople acknowledge that in Judaism there exist a blessing for everything. The Musical was set in the world of Tsarist Russia, and then the Jews were oppressed by the Tsars.

So there was someone who asked a Rabbi “Is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?”

The Rabbi paused for a moment and replied “’May God bless and keep the Tsar… far away from us!”

That is indeed a blessing for his enemies, if the Tsar was far away from them, it would be difficult for him to persecute them. If he cannot persecute the Jews, he will not have to face judgment from God.

To Bless our enemies require wisdom from God

Bless Those Who Persecute You

Paul once tells the church in Rome,

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” – Paul (Rom 12:14)

Indirectly, Paul is acknowledging the fact that it is inevitable that Christians will meet persecution here and there. Perhaps we no longer face physical abuse and attack, but modern persecutions come in the form of mockery , insult,  mental and emotional torture.

Even though we do not respond with physical violence, but we often respond with our sharp tongue and cruel speech.

It is natural for us to fight back and to show that we are no pushovers. In fact Paul knows that Christians are not weak people, if they choose to unleash their anger, they have the potential to be fiercer than lions.

Therefore he remind us again and again to bless and not curse, for we are children of God who is aware of the laws of God.

Putting Coals On The Head, Overcoming Evil With Good

Sometimes, when we see the people we dislike meet with misfortune, let us refrain from passing comment such as  “Thank God, he received his just reward”

For if we do that, we are gloating over their misfortune, and God will be displeased. Paul once quoted the old testament scriptures

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”- Paul (Rom 12:20)

To Put coals of fire on his head is to shame our adversity. It will allow him to see that we could be nice to him even though he is mean to us. It is make him feel bad with our goodness.

Perhaps he would repent and be nice to us once again. Then we would have turn an adversity to a friend.

If one were to repay evilness with evil, there will be no end to retribution. That is why the Chinese like to say “冤冤相报何时了” . If we replay evil with evil, even if we win, we are still committing evil before God.

This is why Paul concluded his point by encouraging everyone

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Paul (Rom 12:21)

The Difficulty Of Overcoming Evil With Good

Sometimes, even though we know the truth about overcoming evil with good, we find it hard to apply it to our lives. For very often we see this happening to our lives

If we were to replay the guy’s evilness with good, he will only bully us even more. This is because he sees us as “easy picking” and he will just pick on us even more. We seldom detect any sadness or remorse in the other party.

So how do we reconcile the words of Paul with that?

Actually Paul did not finish quoting the entire Proverb from King Solomon

“ If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
   For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.” – King Solomon (Prov 25:21-22)

Even though the man would not repay our goodness, but the Lord will see and surely he will reward us. In fact Paul did not censor the last verse, but rather he wanted Christian to look beyond the reward. For to be able to overcome evil with Good is of a much higher value.

The Conclusion So Far

So therefore, when we encounter a evil man, let us not murmur and ask “Why am I so unlucky to run into him?”

Rather, let us treat it as test from God, so let us instead ask ourselves “How can I repay this evil with Good? How can I keep the way of the Lord?”