Most of us would like to see our enemies destroyed (maybe not literally), but have we considered Lincoln’s view of destruction?
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.Romans 12:18-20
In the verses above, Paul echoes the words of Christ – “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
The message is simple, but how is it accomplished? When our enemies succeed our tendency is to mourn and despise their success. When our enemies are suffering, our tendency is to find consolation in their pain and we rejoice.
In yet another example of upside-down living, Paul tells us to rejoice with them as they rejoice. Not only are we to celebrate with them we are to stand beside them in their pain. When they mourn, we are to join them in their mourning.
Our “enemies” are human beings, just like us. Shouldn’t we extend the same kind of empathy and compassion we have received from God?