Our work must follow two laws. We may not bear grudges against anyone, for the kingdom of God is God’s love for all people. And we must not annoy, scorn, or despise any of the poor as of less value than ourselves. You are yourself a miserable wretch if you treat them as though they were of no value. We must always have God’s values before our eyes. God’s treasure lies within each person, not with the great and powerful of this earth. I even have to say to a king, an emperor, or a general: “As head of state or as a great scholar you have no value before God, only as a poor human being you are of value to him. Your value is not a hair more than that of the humble and poor, of the lowest errand boy.”

The divine worth in any despised person must be recognized, and we must protect and cherish it. Whenever we get together with people, we need to consider their value for the kingdom of God. If anyone sins against us or insults, punches, or swears at us, we should not think about the cursing, but be mindful. We could say: “He is foolish insulting me like that.” We can even tell him directly: “Hey, it’s stupid to curse like that!” But we should not despise him for insulting us because in God’s name we see him as precious for the kingdom of heaven.

Eric Drooker, Flood, scratchboard, watercolor, and colored pencil, 2002. Used by permission.

When history, which confuses us and creates enemies, comes to an end and deception has been driven out of the world, we might see this treasure shining clearly. In the meantime, I must see it in my enemy as a mustard seed and forgive again and again. If someone should insult me a hundred times I must still see in him value for God.

This is what people have not yet learned, and I believe that this is why the kingdom of God has not yet come. People bite and scratch, warring against each other, despising and scorning one another. Even the finest people are ready, for the sake of their beliefs and convictions, to judge and condemn others – they have thoroughly learned that! But to discern what is of God in the enemy, to grasp God’s worth in those who insult us, in foreigners, in those far from us who think differently, in the poor just as much as in the noble – this they have not learned.

Only the attitude that Jesus represents can achieve something. Let us learn to be people who can forgive, even seven times a day. We must firmly believe that each person, just as they are, is destined for the kingdom of God, so let us stop judging and condemning them.

Excerpted from a sermon given October 29, 1899, published in Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Ihr Menschen seid Gottes (Zurich: Rotapfel Verlag, 1928), translated by Jörg Barth and Renate Barth.