The Wise and Good Counsel of Jesus Christ

 by Danny Douglas

 

Everything that Jesus taught and commanded was good and right.  It is all something that is good for us.  One such teaching is His command to love, pray for, and do good to, our enemies. Jesus said:

 

Ye have heard that it hath been said; Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine 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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:43-48).

 

Indeed, it makes us like the heavenly Father when we follow this teaching, because He sends rain and sunshine upon His enemies, the evil and the unjust.

Jesus knew that the enemies of His followers can never get the best of them as long as they follow this principle.  Stephen exemplified this when he was stoned by the Jews who rejected the truth (ct. Acts 7:54-60).  Jesus Himself manifested this attitude toward His enemies who crucified Him, as He prayed while hanging on the cross: “... Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do ... " (Luke 23:34).

While there are various things that we may pray for concerning our enemies, the major thrust should be our desire to see them repent, so that they will not be lost in eternal destruction.  Moreover, the fact that we love them and pray for them does not negate our responsibility to mark or with­ draw from them, or to refute their error, when necessary, God commands:

 

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple... And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them ...  Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (Romans 16:17-18; Ephesians 5:11; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; Titus 3: 10-11; I Timothy 6:3-5; II Timothy 3:1-9).

 

It is not loving to fail to do those things which God commands in order to bring them to repentance, and to prevent other souls from being destroyed by their leavening influence (ct. I Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 5:7­, 9).  This would include dealing with any personal offences they have committed, in a Scriptural manner (cf. Matthew 18:15-17).

Involved in our love and concern for our enemies should be our pity upon their fu­ture state in eternity, and perhaps even in this life, if they do not repent.  It is important for us not to allow a vengeful or malicious attitude to develop within our hearts toward them. Paul declared:

 

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice ...”  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communi­cation out of your mouth (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8).

 

When someone commits an injustice against us, or harms us in a painful manner, let us not give in to the temptation to take that which does not belong to us, namely, vengeance.  This belongs to God:

 

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.  And again, The Lord shall judge his people.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:30-31; cf. Romans 12:19).

 

No, it is not ours to "even the score," as God is the avenger all evil: “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons" (Colossians 3:25; cf. I Thessalonians 4:6).  God warned Israel through Moses in this regard:

 

To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste" (Deuteronomy 32:35).

 

The fact that man shall reap as he has sown is set forth as proof that God is not mocked without severe consequences:

 

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Galatians 6:7-8).

 

Based on this principle, David declares how foolish and self-destructive it is for the wicked to plot against the righteous:

 

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.  But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.  The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.  The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.  The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.  Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.  A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous (Psalms 37: 9-17).

 

Indeed, the outcome of the wicked is as the Psalmist declared: "He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made" (Psalms 7:15).

In conclusion, let us do good in the face of evil.  Let us love, pray for, and do good to, our enemies, and this includes doing those things which will help to save their souls (cf. James 5:19-20; Galatians 6:1; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15).  Never allow the misdeeds of others to cause you to do wrong. "Be not over­ come of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). By living in a godly manner, regardless of the ungodliness around us, we will overcome false accusa­tions and evil prompted by the "accuser of our brethren," the devil himself (Revelation 12:10). "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men ... having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed" (I Peter 2:15; 3:16).