Love your enemy


During the American revolutionary War a man named Wildman, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, earned a bad reputation for his verbal abuse of Peter Miller, Pastor of the Dunker church in the same town. Subsequently Wildman enlisted in the continentals Army. While he was still in the service he was arrested as being a spy. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged.

Miller heard about the sentence. His heart was touched. He walked 60 miles to Philadelphia to intercede on Wildman's behalf. When he made his plea before General George Washington, the general replied, "I am sorry, but I cannot grant your request to spare your friend's life."

"But sir, he's not my friend," explained Miller. "He's my worst enemy."

"You mean you walked 60 miles to plead for the life of your enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. Your request is granted."

Washington signed a pardon and gave it to Miller, who walked another 15 miles to where Wildman was awaiting execution. When Wildman saw Miller coming, he sneered to some of his fellow convicts, "There comes old Pete. He came to see me hanged."

Hardly had Wildman said this than Miller pushed his way through the crowd and handed the condemned man the pardon. We can imagine Wildman's surprise. Did Wildman have a change of heart, and did he become Miller's friend? I do not know. But Miller behaved like a Christian.

It is natural to love our friends and dislike those who act unkindly to us, for this is the way the "natural man" behaves (see 1 Cor, 2: 14). But this is not how the "spiritual man" acts - because the spirit of Christ, which is in him, enables him to see in every human being, friend or enemy, a precious soul to be saved.