Seeing Enemies As They Really Are

Reading: Matthew 18

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’

22 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 ‘Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 ‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

28 ‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.

29 ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.”

30 ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’

And now, Eberhard, good-bye. . . . And if it should be decided that we are not to meet again, let us remember each other to the end in thankfulness and forgiveness.

Letter to Eberhard Bethge, 18 November 1943

Thought

Do not raise your hand to strike. Do not open your mouth in anger, but remain still. How can the one who wants to do evil things against you hurt you? It does not hurt you; it hurts the other person. Suffering injustice does not hurt the Christian, but doing injustice does. Indeed, evil can only do one thing to you, namely, make you also become evil. If it does, then it wins. Therefore, do not repay evil with evil. . . .

How can we overcome evil? By our forgiving it endlessly. How does that happen? By our seeing enemies as they really are: as people for whom Christ died, as people Christ loves.