Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dealing with your Enemies

I have a close friend that I work with that feels most days he/she are fighting a losing battle. So, I thought about this over night and have come up with what God would have us do in handling our enemies or what we see as an enemy. You see, what we think is an enemy may not actually be one. It maybe a person that is struggling within themselves and because of this struggle they are taking the anger they have out other individuals. God’s word is very specific on how we should handle the situation. Below are passages from the bible that are needed to handle this situation.

-- Romans 12:14-21 14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Verse 14 -- Resist your natural response
Doing good to someone who has done us wrong contradicts our natural instinct. Let Christ be your example.

Luke 22:47-51(New King James Version)

Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane

47 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

1 Corinthians 2:14 - Put yourself in his place.

14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

This is empathy, the ability to identify with others, versus sympathy, which is feeling sorry for others.

John 11:33-35
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.

We should try to identify with our enemies to find out "where they're coming from." A popular 60's folk song said, "Walk a mile in my shoes, before you shout and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes."

Verse 16 -- Live in harmony – we must have humility
We can live in harmony, even with our enemies, if we have humility.

Peter 2:17-23 (New King James Version)
17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Submission to Masters

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22“ Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"

23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

" …condescend to men of low estate" can also mean "associate with the lowly." In other words, don't be snobby. Don't be a member of a clique. Again, look at Christ's example.

Matthew 9:10 (New King James Version)
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples

Verse 17 -- Don't repay evil for evil.Payback makes you a participant.

" Provide things honest in the sight of all men " means to look for the good in others. Do your part to be at peace with everyone. You can't be responsible for other's behavior, but you should be responsible for your own.

Verse 19 -- Leave the revenge to God. Evil deserves punishment.

Punishment will come, sooner or later.

Deuteronomy 32:35 (New King James Version)

35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’

Justice belongs to God, not us.

It's important to note that this refers to personal matters, not civic. God requires a just civic community.

Verse 21 -- Overcome evil with good by being sensitive to your enemies' needs and meeting them.

This is tough, but it is do-able. How?

Philippians 4:13 (New King James Version)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Find practical ways to demonstrate God's love.

What are some ways you can show real kindness to an enemy?

To "heap coals of fire" on someone's head means your enemy will have guilt and shame for what he has done, and this leads to repentance

Read Proverbs 25:21There is an ancient Egyptian ritual in which someone who is sorry for something he has done would carry burning coals on his head to show his repentance.

Christ calls us all to repentance. If your love for your enemy brings him to shame and then repentance to Christ, then you have helped preserve another soul from Hell.
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