A soldier was astonished when he heard General Robert E. Lee speak in complimentary terms about a fellow officer. “General,” he said, “do you know that the man you spoke so highly of is one of your worst enemies, and that he misses no opportunity to slander you?”
“Yes,” said the General, “but I was asked for my opinion of him, not his of me.”
Lee’s kindness is an inspiring illustration of returning good for evil. Now, I realize that’s not an easy thing to do. In fact, it sometimes seems impossible. That’s why we need to listen to what Jesus said about praying for our enemies (Mt. 5:44). If we obey our Savior in this—that is, if we spend time talking to our heavenly Father about those who treat us badly—it will be much easier to love them and to speak well of them. It would be inconsistent and even unthinkable to mistreat someone we have just remembered in prayer.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him your friend.” With God’s help, therefore, let us love our foes, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them. Like our Lord, let’s be ready to return good for evil—even to our enemies.
When wrongs to me from others come,
From truth let me not stray;
May I love those who persecute,
And for them ever pray. —Bosch
Returning good for good is commendable; returning good for evil is Christlike.(Our Daily Bread)