I was convinced without a shadow of a doubt that I had no enemies. No one disliked me that I knew of. I did not hate anyone, had in fact, never hated anyone in my life. So, based on these claims, that could only mean that I had no enemies. I was 16.
I was pondering all this as I read Matthew 5. What enemies were there to love when I had none? I can almost remember the feeling of contentment I felt at this thought. However, almost immediately, the voice of the LORD spoke to my heart that moment saying, “Every time you get offended by something someone says to you, and you react in defensiveness, they are your enemies at the moment.”
I was blown away by the LORD’s rebuke. His revelation completely challenged my views on enemies, love, relationships, and anger. Because if the way I reacted to situations changed my relationships in the eyes of God then, everyone I knew had been my enemy at some point. The question remained; did I truly know how to love my enemies? In light of Scripture, had I ever truly loved without reservations? And how many times had I been an enemy to a friend?
We have the propensity to associate an enemy with those who hate us and or oppose us. But God showed me that when we react with defensive anger toward someone, they have become our enemies in our hearts. The question at hand is; should we allow ourselves to create enemies? We do not have control over those who see us as enemies but we do have control over who we let our hearts view as enemies. God’s instruction to us as His children is to love our enemies:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36, ESV)
It’s very easy to be controlled by anger and respond to offensive remarks with vindication. But God’s wisdom should move us to fight the human instinct of wanting to defend ourselves. Not only should we fight this for the sake of obeying but because with obedience comes peace. Notice those last verses mentioned above. Do Good. Expect Nothing. Your Reward Will Be Great. But the last part is worth more than our selfish pride; And You Will Be Sons of the Most High. Now, that should motivate us to act in love!
Your friend was mean to you? Love them. Your sister likes to mess with you to make you angry? Love her. Your mom was sarcastic about your career plans? Love her. Do not let wrath poison your heart and make those whom you love, your enemies. Human logic will ask why we should be loving and kind to those who have been uncaring. Why? Because God who is above all has loved us and shown mercy when we did not deserve it.
We never have a right to be unkind, NEVER. Not even when others make sport of us. Our families are loving and caring most of the time for most of us, but sometimes, things will be said or done that will hurt and anger us. This is part of being a human in this world. But our reactions to these situations should reflect Christ. Our goal as Christians is to bring Christ to every place and every circumstance. And we cannot bring Him into a hurting moment by responding with anger.
We don’t automatically see our families and friends as enemies but our thoughts and our feelings toward them defines how our hearts view them. Whether something unkind was said or done to us intentionally or not, we must glorify God with our thoughts, words, and actions especially when it’s difficult. Because if we don’t honor Him in these, we will make anger, pride, and hurt our idols.
I pray and hope this short reflection may bless you this day. My sincere prayer is that we may seek God’s perfect wisdom and put it into practice in our daily lives. May we bring God with us everywhere we walk and that His Name be glorified.