Love Your Enemies
“Love your enemies,
do good to them which hate you.”
The slave, known as Elijah, had been born a free man in Africa. He was a grown man when slave traders, led by a traitor, a small African man, attacked his village and snatched up all able-bodied young men and dragged them off in chains to the slave ships. He soon forgot the faces of the white traders, but resentment burned within him against the African who had grown rich from the bodies of his own people.
The fact that while in America he could never gain revenge, it grew into a bitter hatred. He took his wrath out on his master, a small man, who even though white, reminded him of his enemy. He slouched around, snarled, threatened and did no more work than he absolutely had to. He opposed his master in every way until, because of the seething rebellion on the plantation, the man was afraid to venture out alone at night.
Then the bitter man came under the influence of Christian slaves, and he met and fell in love with our lovely Jesus. A change came over him, and he helped the weaker slaves. He took care of his master’s interests, until it came to be that, like Joseph of old, his master trusted him with most of the running of the plantation.
The day came when the master went into town to purchase some more slaves, and he gave Elijah full authority to pick who he wanted for the work. He had chosen several when he came to an old man, thin and bent. He looked at him for a few moments and indicated him to join the group he was buying.
“Not him,” his master snapped. “But you said I could have who I want and I want this slave!” Elijah answered.
The dealer spoke quickly, “Since you have bought all these, I’ll throw the old man in free.” The deal was settled.
Elijah took the old man and gave him a place in his own hut and fed him with his food share. After his plantation work was done, he sat up to make clothes for the old slave. He gave him only easy work to do. But the man was old, and one day the master noticed Elijah hurrying in from the fields to his hut every so often, then returning and working as hard as he could to make up for the lost time. Finally the master followed him to the hut to see what was going on.
There he found Elijah sponging the face of the old man with a cool cloth as he lay moaning on a bunk, deathly ill. Anger filled the master and he snapped, “This man is no slave, he’s useless! I told you not to get him!”
“Yes, Massa,” Elijah replied, “But he is a man, a sick man, and he needs my help. I’ll be back to the fields as soon as I cool his face.”
The master snarled, “Who is this slave, anyway? Why are you so anxious to care for him; is he your father?”
“No, he not be my fader.”
“Then he must be your brother, or your uncle.”
“No, Massa, he not my brudda or my uncle.”
“He’s a friend then?”
“No, Massa, He not my friend, He my enemy.”
“Yes Massa, he my enemy, an’ Lord Jesus, He say to love our enemies an’ do dem good.” Elijah paused. “This slave, he be de man what sold me to the slave traders many year ago when I am a free man in my village in Africa. Now I finds him an’ does him good, like the Good Book say.”
Speechless, the master walked away!