“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
There’s a way to get rid of your enemies. It’s legal, it’s effective, and there’s no Mafia involved. And the reality is, any other alternative is guaranteed to keep those enemies in your life for as long as you’re alive …
It’s easy to accumulate enemies; that is to say, people who’ve set themselves in opposition to your well-being; people who don’t want you to enjoy or experience good things in your life; people who are working against you, either through their actions or neglect, to keep life from happening the way you want. It could be a former friend, a coworker, a competitor, a sibling who’s jealous of your achievements, a family member or perhaps even your own spouse. Jesus even said, “a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36).
You may have picked up some of these enemies by doing something wrong to them. Perhaps you hurt them. Or perhaps even by doing something courageously right, yet unpopular; a stance they didn’t particularly like or appreciate; and it’s caused them to take offense toward you. Or perhaps you did nothing at all to them besides just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as happens ….
Keeping enemies is easy too. All it takes is treating them in ways that come naturally to you, reacting toward them in raw emotion and instinct. Wanting revenge: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Matthew 5:38). Staying angry and bitter, and adopting the policy that says “love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Wallowing in the pain inflicted by those who “spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
But if you respond to your enemies the way your flesh wants to respond; your enemies will destroy you or worse, you will destroy yourself. If you choose to hate, retaliate, and get even with them, you create the environment that keeps them always in your head, in your mind, and in your heart, and you’re never free of them ….
Jesus’ words of direction to us in these matters, and we know them well ( or should) cut against our grain. “Turn the other cheek … Go the second mile … Give more than we’re asked for” (Matthew 5) ….
But the main idea; and the proven way to become free of your enemies, is found in these difficult statements:
“Do not resist the one who is evil” (Matthew 5:39). Or as Paul said, “Repay no one evil for evil” (Romans 12:17). Or as Solomon said, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and He will deliver you” (Proverbs 20:22).
Jesus told us we are blessed: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-11).
We all want to be blessed, right? Well, until we grasp the full impact of the depth of His love, and we realize that God forgave us through Christ Jesus all of the evil that we ever did in the past, we cannot move into the fullness of life in Him, otherwise we would never have the ability to forgive others. Get ahold of that. God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it, so, we should always forgive those who also maybe don’t deserve it either ….
If you’re fine with carrying your enemies around with you on your back all the time, then by all means do what comes naturally: Be mad. Remain bitter. Review the offense over and over in your mind. Rehearse fantasies of vengeance. But understand this: that if you choose this road, those individuals will always have power over you, and you will remain the prisoner …..
Instead of staying locked in the captivity of your own mental prison; trust the Lord with your enemies. Choose a brave, bold path: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons and daughters of your Father who is in heaven”
Your problem with your enemies isn’t really ‘your’ enemies; your problem, when you resist and retaliate against them, is that ‘YOU’ become your own worst enemy. If you want to be free from ALL your enemies; yourself included; then trust God with them ….
In conclusion, know that there is freedom to be found in surrender. True freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you. The heart of the matter is Love. If we profess to be Christians, yet we hate our enemies, then we are hypocrites. Therefore, who comes to mind when you think of someone who treats you as an enemy would? What is one change of thought or behavior toward them that you could exercise today as a demonstration of your faith in God’s Word? Be mindful of others this week and be kind. Walk in love. Be forgiving. Be a peacemaker and you shall be blessed ….
Let’s pray ~
Lord God, few things run counter to my natural feelings more than how You tell me how to respond to my enemies. Yet, I know that I serve a Saviour who suffered even greater at the hands of His enemies, even though He, unlike me, had done nothing wrong.
Lord, grant that I would be able to walk in closer fellowship with Him!
I long for and want to experience the intimacy of identifying with Him in this way that I may be more like Him. Therefore I ask Yoy today Father, to please give me the grace to love my enemies with the same love that You showed me when I was an enemy of Yours; that same love that You continue to show me even when I oppose or rebel against You even now at times. There are days that this seems a hard path that You ask me to walk; but I know Your grace is sufficient and in my obedience there is liberty and freedom. Therefore, I humbly submit and surrender my will to Yours today, and I choose to follow and obey. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen ….