Exodus 23:1-9 includes six commands dealing with how we should treat other people. And mostly, they are negatives. Do not treat them in a certain way. Included in this list is an instruction about lending a helping hand to an enemy.
“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it. (Exodus 23:4-5 NIV)
I do not know anyone who owns an ox or a donkey. But that does not mean that I can ignore this command. In a more general form, it is giving instructions about helping those that we do not get along with. Rather than ignore them when they are in need of help, or rejoice when I see them in trouble, I should offer assistance if I can.
When I see their dog running loose, help them to catch it. When their car won’t start, give them a jump, or a lift. Help them to cover up the damage to their home from a storm. There is any number of ways that I can help out a grumpy neighbor.
Why should I do this? The simplest answer is that God wants me to be like him. God sends the rain, and the sun, on the good and bad alike. He sent his Son to be the savior of all who would believe, regardless of what they were like. And he expects me to follow that example in my treatment of others, including those who might be considered my enemies.
A second reason to do this is that it may help to reconcile a broken relationship. Will my enemy stay my enemy if I am lending them a helping hand? They may well not be reconciled. But it is also possible that you could lose an enemy and gain a friend.
Are there limits to the helping hand I am expected to offer? It would seem that if it is legal, there is an actual need, and it is within your ability to help, that you probably should. Remember the extent of God’s help to me when I was his enemy.
4 thoughts on “Lend a Helping Hand to an Enemy – Exodus 23:4-5”
I could not find a connection to Exodus 12:1-9 and Exodus 23:4-5 ? Please explain
The problem is that I added the wrong reference. It should have been Exodus 23:1-9. Thanks for pointing that out to me. I have fixed it now.
Wonderful sentiment. Yes, you are teaching the same lesson from 2 kings 6:8-23. Paul drew from this lesson when he reiterated the sermon on the mount, which is Paul’s strongest teaching… Romans 12:9-21.
Great post. Thanks.
Glad you found value in it.