Exodus 23:4-5 says: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless, you shall surely release it with him.” What is significant about this verse is that we are not commanded to do these things for our FRIENDS, but for our ENEMIES!
Early on here in the Old Testament, the seeds are already being sown the seeds for Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies.” Someone has written that when Jesus spoke those words in the Sermon on the Mount, it was the first time they had ever been spoken in history, and they must have fallen on the ears of His hearers like a thunderclap! But if the multitude was shocked by Jesus’ command to love their enemies, they should not have been; for right here in the Law they had already been taught to do that very thing, in very specific and practical ways: by returning and caring for their enemy’s lost animals.
Of course the question for us is not academic: do we “know” to love our enemies? It is very real and down-to-earth instead: God’s goal for you as a Christian is to become like Jesus, who loved even His enemies. This scripture shows us that “loving your enemy” doesn’t necessarily mean working up good feelings towards them, but consist in practical, loving ACTIONS. In light of that, in what practical ways would God have YOU to love YOUR enemies today?