“Good for Evil” written by Charlotte Maria Tucker (A.L.O.E.) is about forgiveness.
“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
“He shall repent of it! if I die for it— he shall!” passionately exclaimed Philip, as he wiped the blood from his face, after a fight in which he had had the worst. “I’ll make him repent it!”
“Why, what is the matter?” said his aged grandfather, who, attracted by the noise of the quarrel, had unperceived approached the angry boy.
“Look what he has done!” cried Philip, pointing to a beautiful little model of a ship, which lay crushed and destroyed in the mud. “It has been my work for a month past; I had just finished it; and see—” The poor boy could not finish his sentence; grief and passion choked his voice; but again he muttered between his teeth,—“I’ll make him repent it!”
“But why did he spoil your model?”
“Oh, he is full of spite and malice—he always was. We hate one another. He trampled on my ship, so of course I struck him,—and we fought,—and he was the stronger. But I’ll have my revenge yet!”
“Come into the house,” said the old man quietly, “and let us examine your hurts.”
As soon as this was done, and the boy’s head bound up, his grandfather laid his hand on the shoulder of Philip, and with a grave look began:—“I see that your face is not very much hurt; now I must look to a more serious wound.”
“What do you mean?” said the boy.
“Must I remind you, that ‘if any have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his’ (Romans 8:9). And ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love peace gentleness meekness’” (Galatians 5:22, 23).
“Oh, one can’t put up with everything! I don’t hate those who don’t hate me, nor harm those who don’t insult me; but I want justice, nothing but justice!”
“If you receive nothing but justice, my boy, a terrible portion will be yours. For my part, I have learned to ask mercy; without it, I could never reach heaven, nor escape hell.”
“You mean mercy from God: I know that we all need that,” said Philip; “but that has nothing to do with my quarrel with Ben.”
“It has much to do with it,” replied the old man; “‘Forgive, and ye shall be for given’” (Luke 6:37).
Philip made no reply, and his grandfather continued: “This is the real state of the case, my boy. You have broken God’s laws every day of your life, by deeds, or words, or thoughts. Justice has sentenced you to suffer for it; but the very God against whom you have sinned has had mercy upon you. He has sent his Son to die for you, ‘the Just One for the unjust;’ and now he says to you, and to all who hope for life through his death, ‘Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’” (Ephesians 4:32).
“It is a very difficult thing to do,” said Philip thoughtfully.
“It is a thing which must be done, and if you are Christ’s, will be done,” replied his grandfather; “for what said the Lord himself? ‘If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matthew 6:15). Think over these words; pray over them; and tell me what you feel on the subject tomorrow.”
The next morning Philip met his grandfather with a calmer spirit. “I have thought over my quarrel with Ben,” said he. “I had intended to let fly his canary, or to have done him some mischief or other; but now I have made up my mind to let the fellow alone. Are you satisfied with me now, grandfather?”
“You have taken one step in the right way, dear Phil; but you have not yet, I fear, forgiven as you have been forgiven. Think over the subject again, and try your heart by the Word of God.”
At breakfast Philip sat silent and thoughtful. Before he rose to prepare for church, he spoke again to his grandfather. “I see that it is not enough to give up revengeful acts, I suppose that I ought to keep down angry words also. This is a harder task than the other, for I love to speak out my mind; but I’ll try, with God’s help, not to speak ill of Ben. Grandfather, are you satisfied?”
“That is another great step, my boy; but ask your own heart if it really forgives as you have been forgiven.”
Philip came home from church with a brighter face. “Grandfather,” said he, as he led the old man towards his home, “there is one prayer which I never truly joined in till today.”
“What prayer was that?”
“‘That it may please Thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts.’ Ben came into my mind, and I prayed for him; and do you know why I did so?”
“God put it into your heart, my boy.”
“Why, the second chapter that was read struck me so. To hear of St. Stephen bleeding and dying, with the cruel stones hurled at him, and the people yelling around him; then, to think of his praying in the midst of his agony, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge’ (Acts 7:60). He had much more to forgive than ever I have had. I wonder if the heart of any of his cruel enemies was ever turned?”
“Do you forget, Philip, that St. Paul was one of them? That he stood and looked on while Stephen was murdered? How little the persecutor then thought that he was so soon to join the Christian band which he wished to destroy, and that he should die, like St. Stephen, a martyr for the gospel!”
“With what joy they must have met in heaven!” cried Philip. “Perhaps I may find my enemy there!”
“And there he would welcome you as a brother,” said the aged man.
The next morning was rainy and wet, but Philip was absent; and his grandfather, as he sat by his little fire, and looked on the untasted breakfast, wondered what had become of his boy. At last he heard a well-known step, and Philip entered, tired, and dripping from the rain.
“Where have you been, my child?”
“I’ve walked all the way to Hackney,” cried Philip gaily, as he pulled off his wet jacket, and hung it up to dry.
“To Hackney! Why, Ben lives there. Did you go to see him?”
“The truth is, grandfather, that I heard but last evening that Mr. Jones wants an errand boy, and that if a smart lad were to apply at once, he would be likely to get the place. Now, Ben has been for some time out of work; I thought that this might just suit him; so—as if I delayed he might lose his chance—I got up early this morning and walked over.”
There was a look of quiet pleasure in the old man’s face as he poured out the tea for his grandson’s breakfast,—it said more than volumes of praise. After a minute’s pause he inquired, “How did Ben receive you, my boy?”
“All in his old way,” replied Philip, with his choler rising as he spoke. “He laughed when first he saw me, and asked me how I liked what he had given me on Saturday. Grandfather, I felt inclined to knock him down; but I thought of what I had heard at church, and restrained myself; and after a while I told him my errand.”
“And what did he say to that?”
“At first, nothing; he only looked surprised and suspicious, as though he thought that I was making game of him; then he held out his hand to me, with an ashamed look, and said, ‘Philip, I behaved ill to you on Saturday; you said that I should repent it,—and I do!’”
“God bless you, my dear boy! You have acted like His child. ‘For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful’” (Luke 6:32, 35, 36).
Reader, do you bear ill-will towards any one? Has any one injured or insulted you? Oh, forgive, as ye would be forgiven! Give up revengeful acts; silence angry words; lift up your heart in prayer for your enemy; return him good for evil. Lie not down tonight with anger in your heart; ask the Saviour to give you a spirit like his, that you may pass through life to eternity “with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).