If you are left in an island with a piece of bread and two people all starving to death, your friend before you and your enemy behind you, who would you feed?
Would you pick and choose your friend who has been so good to you or would you pick your enemy who has consistently attempted but failed in killing you? Well, anyone who would choose friend over enemy is both emotionally and spiritually immature as I’ll attempt to demonstrate.
I know many would chant, “Feed your friends – starve your enemies!” That is not just NONSENSE but diabolical at best. Feed your enemies first for that is the LAW (of love) and the (way of) CHRIST! It is quite true that we are humans and as humans, we are emotional beings. It is also a fact that we are both rational and spiritual beings too. By our emotional and rational natures, it makes sense to feed our friend as Saint Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle point out respectively:
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”
“Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.”
It is also reasonable to consider the words of Plato who says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Sure! Both our friend and enemy is fighting a hard battle. But it makes greater sense to identify who is fighting the hardest battle among the two. I think the enemy here is the one struggling most and so deserving the greatest act of kindness. Don’t you think so too? This act of goodness is more than the saying, “Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.”
Now let’s consider the moral and spiritual side of this issue. From the words of Christ we learn that we have to love our enemies. For example:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48 RSV)
We have to remember that Jesus said he came to fulfil the Law.
“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matthew 5:17 RSV)
Also both the Old and New Testament affirm we giving bread to our enemies when they are hungry. Unless you think you are wiser than God and Scripture to do otherwise!
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22 RSV)
“If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21 RSV)
Wow! Are you surprised or scared now? I know this seems near impossible to many. However, the problem is that many of us haven’t grasp the love of both self and neighbour in order to graduate to that of loving our enemies.
“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.” (Mark 12:28-34 RSV)
Do you dare to question Jesus? No wonder Gilbert K. Chesterton said, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”
Now back to the question. Will you give the piece of bread to your enemy instead of your friend? Be honest and be Christ-like at all times. Thank you.
PS: I’d like to hear your views and much more Christ would like to see your works not just your talks.