The word "enemy" or its plural "enemies" is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible and is the focus of large sections of Scripture. Much of the Old Testament deals with the conflict and battles between Israel and its "enemies". Two things are abundantly clear in Scripture. First, each of us as Christians will face enemies and face persecution from those enemies because of our belief and faith in Christ (2 Timothy 3:12). Second, God in His loving-kindness left many words of wisdom in Scripture to prepare us for dealing with those enemies who will persecute us.
In this modern world strength and success in conflicts is clearly measured by winning. Defeating one's enemies is undisputedly a primary pursuit and focus for many societies. Whether it is defeating an enemy in a battle over possessions or being victorious in forcing beliefs and lifestyles on others - we are preoccupied with proving our superiority over our enemies. Yet God's desire is not that we be focused on winning and defeating our enemies at any cost. He is most interested in how we treat those we are in conflict with.
Want to know God's thoughts on how you should treat your enemies? Well here they are…
- Love your enemies and pray for them. Matt 5:43-48
- Help your enemies in need. Exodus 23:4-5
- Provide life sustaining care to your enemies. Proverbs 25:21-22
- Forgive your enemies. Luke 23:34, Acts 7:60
- Bless and endure your enemies. 1 Corinthians 4:12
Not what you expected? If you think about it, how powerful is it when you follow God's instruction to pray for your enemies as well as yourself? Do you believe He will be more likely to answer your prayers and reward you as He has promised? How much more difficult is it for someone to hate you when you have helped rather than hurt them? How much more endearing is showing compassion to others rather than contempt? How irresistible is experiencing grace when you are expecting retaliation? How many relationships have been mended through love rather than hate?
God doesn't expect us to let others mistreat or abuse us. There is no prohibition against righteous defense of one's self, one's family or one's people. God is really more focused on our heart's response to our enemies. He does not want us to hate our enemies or to fail to bless or pray for them as we are called to do. If we are obedient to God and love and pray for our enemies He promises to reward us, if not on this earth, then most assuredly in Heaven. So the question is, will we follow God's direction for OVERCOMING OUR ENEMIES or will we seek to solve it as the ungodly do through hate, intolerance and persecution? Which approach do you think will be rewarded and be most successful in the end?