“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
What constitutes an enemy? The dictionary defines the word as anyone who is hostile, hateful or unfriendly, who intends to injure and oppose. Think of the feelings an enemy evokes.
Generally the Psalms are beloved. However, there are verses that might confuse us, when the Psalmist describes the enemy as those bloodthirsty people rising up against God, in a spirit of hatred. In return, are these people worthy of hate? (Psalm 139:19, 21-22). Some Old Testament references take us down quite a different path from what Jesus recommends.
Diametrically opposed to hating our enemy, Jesus teaches a new way – a better way. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Is this contradictory to the instruction of the Old Testament? No – it is now possible because Jesus was leaving the Holy Spirit to dwell within His disciples, to strengthen and encourage in “the way” of love. Jesus demonstrated how far He was willing to go (remember He said “I am the Way”?), by dying on the cross at the hands of His enemies, in order that we might be freed from sin and guilt. Are we really willing to follow our leader?
Jesus repeatedly exhorts His followers to do good towards those who hate us, to pray for those who curse us or mistreat us; even lend them [money] without expecting any return! (Luke 6:28, 35) WOW! How far from these teachings has the church moved today?
Solomon got it right when he said “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice.” Or – there would be consequences for you! (Proverbs 24:17). Yet how often do we, driven by feelings of revenge or fear, pray imprecatory prayers over our enemies?
Paul who suffered untold persecution left us with the solution, one that eradicates those reciprocal feelings of hostility when we have been wronged, or when we fear being wronged. Quoting from the book of Proverbs, Paul’s recipe was a reminder from the Holy Spirit Himself: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:20). In so doing it is just possible to bring him/her into repentance and peace! Praise God!
Do we feel smug when an enemy goes down, or do we grieve for the loss of a soul for whom Jesus died?
How have you treated those God has placed in your path who are disagreeable and even hostile?
How do you hope people will treat you when you have made wrong choices or been just plain difficult?
by Marilyn Daniels