From Foe to a Friend
Life has its twists and turns. Edwin Stanton “twisted the knife”, calling Abraham Lincoln, “a long-armed creature”. How disparaging! But the President was presidential. With deep love and insight, he forgave. With amazing cords of love, Lincoln drew Stanton close. He repaid evil with good
So doing Stanton was disarmed, his heart warmed and was won.
The fiend was turned into a friend and made a Stirling contribution to the administration of Lincoln.
He was at his bedside all night when he lay dying, and whispered through tears as he passed to the other side: “Now he belongs to the ages.”
What a twist and turn of life!
People who wrong us today may turn out to be our greatest friends tomorrow if we will forgive and restore them.
Through the fall of Adam, we all fell out of love with God. We were all born with the sinful nature of rebellion and disobedience. We became estranged, alienated from God. We became enemies. Adam was driven out of the garden. He lost fellowship with God. We were born in sin and therefore enemies of God.
But we thank God, who in His boundless love and mercy hatch another plan to redeem us and make us friends again. This was made possible when Jesus left His majesty in Glory and came down to earth to die for us. The sinless became sin that we might become the righteousness of God.
This was why Jesus told His disciples,
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
Jesus did not come to make us Christians but disciples. A disciple is an imitator of Christ. We are to follow His example and delight in and do the Word of God.
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
He also said, 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 [a]But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, …( Matt5:43-44)
On the cross, He prayed for those who were torturing and crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke23:34
This is our example to follow.
Has anyone disparaged, disdained you like Stanton did Lincoln. Take a leaf from Lincoln. Forgive and see beyond the ill. See them through the eyes of God. Pray,” Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do. Peter wrote, “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1Pet4:8
Paul wrote, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice:”
“And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Jesus taught His taught his disciples to pray,
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
When the mob seized Stephen because of his devotion to God and began to stone him as he preached, Stephen prayed for them before he died, Father, lay not this sin to their charge.” Acts7:60 How magnanimous!
This is the example we should follow.
Peter was one of the three disciples who were closest to Jesus. But he denied Jesus three times when it mattered most. And when this prophecy was fulfilled, Peter who had earlier bragged that he would never disown Jesus, wept bitterly. He was so disappointed that soon after the crucifixion, he went fishing, abandoning any hope to minister. He taught it was game over for him..
However, after the resurrection, Jesus came back and restored him. Three times he denied Jesus, three times He reassured Peter.
You too can forgive and love and restore others. Love is patient and kind and keeps no record of wrongs. When you hold a grudge, you imprison yourself. You cannot move forward. It’s like drinking poison and expecting another person to die.
Forgiveness frees you; it is for you.
joseph forgave his brothers who hated him because of his dream and sold him into slavery. When he had the opportunity to pay them back with starvation when they wandered into Egypt in search of food, Joseph, who was now a Prime Minister, rewarded them with good.
He saw his position as a fulfillment of vision and purpose and invited the whole family to Egypt and settled them in the best of the land- Goshen.
11 There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.” ’ Gen45:11
Later when Jacob died, his brothers were afraid that Joseph would turn against them. They begged for forgiveness.
“I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Gen50:17-20
You too can restore those who have hurt you.
Job did just that when he prayed for those miserable comforters who spoke ill of him when he was going through the mill. God rebuked them and told them to go to Job to pray for them. They went and Job prayed for them.
7 And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.
8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.“
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job.
10 And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job42:7-10
Notice that Job was restored as he restored others. God blessed him twice as much as before.
This is what awaits you as you open your heart and bless those who have cursed you, misused you or disdained you.
You too can turn that foe into a friend. Let them see Jesus in you. Do what He would do, because, as He is so you are.(1John4:17) You can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you. (Phil4:13) Take the first step and reach out and God will make His grace abound toward you and you will turn that foe into a friend.
Let us pray:
Father, I thank you for reconciling me to yourself. I was once an enemy but you forgave me when I came to Christ. You made the enemy a friend.
I forgive those who have hurt me. I refuse to take it personally. I forgive them as you forgave me.
I shall repay evil with good. And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.