Barto was on the brink of starvation. Once a Communist Party official and prosecuting attorney, he was now considered expendable by the same party. He was sentenced to labor in a Romanian prison camp. His stomach, once full, was now wasting away. He wondered how much longer he could go on.
Seeing Barto’s frail stature, a fellow prisoner came up to him and offered to share his rations of food. “Thank you, my friend,” he said to the other prisoner. “How long must you be here?” Barto asked as he woofed down the food.
“Twenty years,” replied the prisoner. His eyes seemed to question Barto. “What crime did you commit?”
“I was tried and sentenced for giving food to a fugitive pastor who was being chased by the police,” the man stated calmly. Barto noticed his voice didn’t carry bitterness like Barto had heard from so many others. “Who gave you such a harsh punishment for doing a good deed?” demanded Barto.
The prisoner replied humbly, “Sir, you were the state prosecutor at my trial. You don’t recognize me now, but I remember you.”
The man went on. “I am a Christian. Christ taught us to reward evil with good. I wished then for you to realize that it is right and good to give food to a hungry man—even your enemy. Now, I can show you.” Barto began that day to understand that his own spiritual needs far outweighed his physical ones.
Kindness is the way to our enemies’ hearts. And it may do something for their souls. God uses kindness as his strategy of choice when dealing with us. Instead of giving us exactly what we deserve for our offenses against him, he deals with us kindly. His kindness is an example of how we should fashion our own approach to those who offend us. Kindness arrests their attention. It is as unexpected as it is undeserved. Like Barto, our kindness toward an enemy may awaken a spiritual hunger for the source of our compassion. However, regardless of their response, we must follow the example of our Lord when dealing with our enemies. Who needs your kindness today?