The scriptures are plain. How could Christians misunderstand? When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he used a phrase that not only taught them how but taught them a deeper level of understanding of points in that prayer. One such phrase was: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Then he went on to say, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). God made the promise that if we do not forgive men for what they do against us, he will not forgive us.
“If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray,
thou shalt surely bring it back to him again” (Exodus 23:4).
The Old Testament Law was given to the Israelites as a nation for their government as well as for their spiritual training. On the surface it was merely a set of rules regulating the people as they lived among other such nations.
A man like King David might see the principles behind the laws and learn to have the heart of God while others merely observed the outward show and did not discern the justice, judgment and equity cloaked within.
Having studied the New Testament principles today makes it easier for us to see that much of the Levitical system had to do with a higher standard of living than just legalistic obedience. Such was the command to do good to their enemies by having compassion on the enemy”™s animal that was in distress.
What New Testament command is there for us today concerning our enemies? How are we to do them good and why?
“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?” (Matt 5:43-47).
From this passage, what good works are we to do? Whether or not we like the idea, we can see that we are to love our enemies. We are to bless them that curse us and do good to them that hate us. Then as if that were not hard enough, we are told to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us. Some would say this is impossible for humans to do.
Why should we do this? We want to be children of the Father (our Heavenly Father), and what is He like? He makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and He sends the rain on the just and on the unjust.
What further reasoning is there for this action? If we love the ones who love us, what reward is there? Even the publicans do that much. If we salute our brethren (and friends), what do we do more than others in the world? Even the publicans do the same things. We must reach for a higher standard and learn to treat people like our Heavenly Father treats them. That truly is a good work.