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 instruction 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 are any number of ways that I can help out a grumpy neighbor.
Why should I do this? The simplest answer is because 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 as 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.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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