If your enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
(See homily on Proverbs 24:17, 18, 29.) To the truth on this subject there affirmed, may be added the consideration that to return good for evil is the true triumph; for -
I. TO BE AVENGED IS REALLY UNSATISFACTORY. It is, indeed, to have a momentary gratification. But of what character is this satisfaction? Is it not one that we share with the wild beast, with the savage, nay, even with the fiend? Is it one that we can approve in our calmer hour, that we can look back upon with any thankfulness or pure delight? In fact, it is to be really and inwardly defeated; for we then give way to a malevolent passion - we are "overcome of evil" instead of overcoming it. We allow thoughts to enter our mind and feelings to harbour in our heart of which, in worthier moments, we are utterly ashamed.
II. TO ACT MAGNANIMOUSLY IS THE VICTORIOUS THING.
1. It is to gain a very real victory over our self, over our lower passions.
2. It is to win our enemy. To make him suffer, to wound him, to damage his reputation, to cause him serious loss and injury, - that is a very poor thing indeed to do. Anyone is, in a moral sense, equal to that; mere malevolence can do that and can be at home in the act of doing it. But to win an enemy, to turn his hatred into love, his contempt into esteem, his cruelty into kindness, his hostility into friendship, - that is to triumph over him indeed, it is to "heap coals of fire upon his head."
III. TO ACT MAGNANIMOUSLY IS TO ACT DIVINELY. For it is:
1. To carry out Divine commandment (text; Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:14, 19, 21).
2. To act as the Divine Father does, and as Jesus Christ did when he was with us (Matthew 5:45; Luke 23:24).
3. To receive a Divine reward (text). God will bestow a bountiful, spiritual blessing on those who thus resolutely keep his word, gain dominion over themselves, bless their neighbour, and follow in the footsteps of their Lord. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: