Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Time to Help Your Enemy -- Exodus 23:4-5

Exodus 23:4-5: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.”
For most of us, unless we travel to a second or third world country, the chances of seeing an ox or a donkey are very slim.  For us, these verses have to be considered in two ways: First, what was God saying to His people in the dessert after they had fled from Egypt and second, what are we to do with these verses today?  I cannot help but feel that God’s direction is congruent to both the Israelites and us.
Here is the bottom line: Yes, an individual or a group may be your enemy. But if you come across something of theirs that is where it should not be because they left it behind, or lost it, or had it stolen from them, or however else it got there – you are to return it to them.
If I am negotiating a collective agreement with a union on behalf of a company client and someone on the union team leaves their personal notes or strategy behind, I believed it is my responsibility to return it to them without looking at the content. I remember once that I was sending a strategic email on negotiations to my client, but had accidently included the union in the distribution. Fortunately, when the union administrative secretary received the email, she knew it was not meant for them, and called me. It turned out she was a wonderful Christian lady from our church who knew me. She assured me the email was not sent on to the union negotiators. She did the right thing.
God expects us to take corrective action. He says, if you come across some property belonging to your enemy that is not where it should be, “go out of your way and return it to him”.  How many of us would do just that?  How many of us would more likely rejoice in knowing that our enemy is getting his just desserts?  “He deserves this,” many of us would say.  There is much that we may feel our enemies deserve. But God is saying, “Look, this is not about your enemy. This is about you doing the right thing. I will take care of your situation with your enemy, but you need to do the right thing.” Many of us have had to do just that in our lives when it comes to dealing with our enemies. Trusting God to take care of our situation, our position, and our need – but in the process being careful to do the right things.
And then God says there will be times when we have to go beyond the little effort of returning a lost oxen or donkey, or cat or dog, which is not too difficult or onerous. We may actually notice that something belonging to our enemy is in trouble, not just lost.  His animal or pet may be caught in a fire or trapped or injured.  His automobile may have skid off the road on a patch of ice or suffered a flat tire (and yes, even with our enemy or one of his family members driving it). God is basically saying, “Get out of your house; get out of your own carriage, and help your enemy deal with his animal or his car.” Can you do that? That’s what God is telling us to do.
You see, by doing that, you are not condoning what your enemy has done (he may even have been drunk while driving) or what he thinks or what he says about you or God or anything else. You are simply doing what you are called to do.
I love the last phrase of this passage “you shall surely release it with him.” You are to do it with him. God says you can work with your enemy to do what is right for you to do.  Who knows, maybe because you have worked with him, he will see you in a different light or maybe he will see the God you worship and serve in a different light. That does not mean you have to give in to his wrongdoing or beliefs, or to condone his actions. It simply means you have to do for your enemy what God expects you to do for all human beings.
Can God’s instructions get any more difficult? Blessed is the person who can work with that philosophy of “working with one’s enemy”.  There will be times when your enemy is hungry – feed him.  There will be times when your enemy is thirsty – give him drink. If you are a doctor, you may even be called upon to save his life. All of that is not about your enemy and his or her wrongdoing; it is about your right doing before God.  That is what the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans in chapter 12, verses 20 and 21 calls us to do.  We are to overcome the evil of someone else’s actions with the good of our actions – because of our relationship with God.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

No comments:

Post a Comment