Proverbs 25:21 “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat”
Matthew 4:4 “But he answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”‘”
Do you have any enemies? I asked myself that question after I read Proverbs 25:21 above. In fact, I prayed about it and asked God that question. At first, I couldn’t really think of any, so with a verse like this, it’s so easy to pass it by and think that it’s for someone else. But is it? After some meditation I couldn’t help but think of the divisiveness in our world today. It seems like Democrats and Republicans are at each other’s throats all the time. Then there is the conflict between religious viewpoints – and in particular, Muslim vs Christian or atheist vs anything else. Of course, there are conflicts between nations, conflicts between races, and conflicts between ideologies. It’s very likely that it’s just those sorts of differences that the Lord had in mind when he gave us Proverbs 25:21.
So, what are we to do when we find ourselves on the other side of an argument or a situation when the other side is so obviously wrong, at least wrong in our view. If one were to listen to the radio, watch the news, or peruse Facebook, the obvious answer is to ridicule them, attack them verbally, run them out of a restaurant, or even worse. But what is the Christian to do, i.e., those who want to follow the supernatural way rather than the natural way?
The Bible says we are to help them in some way. We are to reach out to those in need. If they’re hungry, give them something to eat, and if they’re thirsty, give them something to drink. But here’s another dilemma. Who do I know that is actually hungry or thirsty? I don’t live in downtown Los Angeles, where the homeless are all around me. And even if I did and were to help them in some way, I don’t really think of them as my enemies. So are my enemies, in the sense of those who are opposed to the way I think, believe, or live, hungry in any way? Well, in Matthew 4 Jesus spoke of a hunger that is not physical. It’s a spiritual hunger for the Word of God, i.e., the Bread of Life.
You see, no matter who someone is, they always need more of God’s Word than they have right now. We always have a need to grow spiritually. We need more faith. And“faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Unfortunately, it is often those with the biggest need to hear God’s Word who are the last to realize that need. They are like those in the Laodicean church in Revelation 3 to whom Jesus spoke these words: “You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” They saw themselves as not needing a thing, but they needed the touch of God in their lives, because they were in spiritual poverty.
So, what does this say to you and me, particularly if we are believers? How are we to treat those who don’t see the world as we do, who regard our viewpoints as anything but good, and who might even attack our viewpoints with mocking or even worse? Do we mock back? Do we ridicule? Or do we realize that they, like us, are in great need of the Word of God, i.e., the Bread of Life? Do we do everything we can to share it with them? If we do, we surely won’t be so quick to fight them verbally – such as on Facebook, Twitter, face to face, or behind their back. Just as Jesus has told us to feed our enemies, He also told us to love them and pray for them (Matthew 5:43-44). We are to pray that God will reveal their need for Him to them, and we are to pray for opportunities to love them and show kindness to them, even if it means swallowing our pride and not entering some effort to show them and everyone else that they are “wrong” and we are “right.” As believers in Christ who have been fed with the Bread of Life ourselves, we need to ask ourselves what we really want for those who aren’t like us. Do we want them to know the Way of Life and be saved? It’s what everyone really needs more than anything. However, it’s hard to share God’s Truth with one in such need if we have created barriers to them by our words and actions.
May God help us to love, pray for, and share the Bread from heaven with those who need it, even if those who need it most don’t realize it right now. It’s a life lived like this that swims against the current and that raises real questions as to why we would love, rather than oppose, those who aren’t like us. And when such questions arise, it is then that the One who loved us while we were yet sinners has told us to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Do you hear that – gentleness and respect? What a contrast to how we hear so many speaking to each other today.