I went for my morning walk despite the chilly rain that drizzled softly from the sky. It felt nice to walk outside in the rain, but it also felt unnatural. There is a part of me that felt like I should stay inside and enjoy the shelter instead of suffering the cold wet morning, but
because I’m insane the drive to walk with God and have some alone time in prayer outweighed that desire. As I made my way around my neighborhood, the Lord spoke this thought to me: Love Your Enemies.
We all know what the scripture says about loving our enemies, but how easy is it to put that into practice? There are some commandments that go against every natural human emotion. Honoring your parents, refraining from lying and stealing etc. are all acceptable by the world’s standards and don’t go too hard against the grain of human emotions. However, when it comes to our relationships with people who are not necessarily on our side, it is a totally different story.
Our world is very big on “justice”. The pledge in my country contains the phrase “liberty and justice for all”. When someone is wronged, it is automatically assumed that that individual should receive some sort of reparation or atonement for what has been done to them. It is human nature to want to see wrongs made right. This, however, doesn’t work the same way in the kingdom of God.
Look now; I myself am He!
There is no other god but me!
I am the one who kills and gives life;
I am the one who wounds and heals;
no one can be rescued from my powerful hand!
Now I raise my hand to heaven
and declare, “As surely as I live,
when I sharpen my flashing sword
and begin to carry out justice,
I will take revenge on my enemies
and repay those who reject me.
Deuteronomy 3:39-41 NLT
More than once the bible states that vengeance belongs to the Lord. (Romans 12:19, Pslam 94:1) That means, we are not responsible for taking revenge on those who have offended or wronged us. The Lord will handle all of that. What Jesus asks us to do in Matthew 5 is to love our enemies.
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;
It’s like walking in the cold rain. It feels unnatural. Loving someone who does not love you goes against everything in your fleshly nature. Therefore, it cannot be done by the will of the flesh, but must be done by the power of God operating through you. It is no easy feat. When people hurt you, especially people you care about, there are many reactions that feel more natural than loving them. Being angry and wanting to get back at them is usually the first reaction. Withdrawing from that person(s) and complete avoidance is another “natural” reaction. Jesus does not mention either of these two as an option. These are the reactions Jesus instructs us to have: Love, Bless, Do Good, and Pray.
noun, plural enemies.
1.a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
An enemy could be someone you aren’t really acquainted with, or they could be someone who used to be an ally. It could be a neighbor, former friend, an ex, a coworker, a schoolmate, or even a stranger. Whoever it is, if they have plans to bring harm to you emotionally, physically, financially, or in any other way, you are commanded not to strike back at them, but to love them. It is very common in the United States to see justice and atonement as something everyone deserves. If you spill hot coffee all over yourself in this country, you can go to court and have someone pay for the damages.
That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever…. That is an extreme example, but it is with that same spirit that we sometimes approach the offenses that we suffer.
Indeed, those who do wrong will reap what they have sown.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
But it is not in our job description to carry out the reaping. Jesus handles all of those things for us.
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. Proverbs 25:21-22
Doing good to someone who has caused or is causing you harm or pain isn’t exactly what the world would prescribe. The kingdom of God does not operate the same way that the kingdoms of this world do. In the kingdom of God, the last is first and the first is last. Trying to operate the same way that world operates will only bring destruction. God’s way of doing things is always the best way of doing things.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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 5:10-12
Jesus says in Matthew 5 that we are blessed when we are persecuted, reviled, and spoken evil of. To the flesh that is complete and utter nonsense, but in the spirit realm, it makes complete and total sense. It wasn’t until the Christians in the book of Acts were persecuted that the gospel spread like wildfire. It wasn’t until God’s people were oppressed by the Egyptians that they grew in number and strength. It wasn’t until Jesus Himself was beaten, bruised, humiliated and brutally killed, that He crushed the head of the devil and won eternal victory for us all.
It sounds easy, but I assure you, it takes practice. I have been making it a habit that when someone hurts me, that I will pray the biggest and best prayers over their life. Sometimes those who are not fully given to God can be used to oppress, hinder, and hurt others. They can become a tool that the real adversary uses to try to distract and destroy us. Many times, that person is unaware that they are being used in such a negative way. However, there are times when a person is fully aware of the harm they are causing. In either case, our hearts should be moved with compassion for them because it is written:
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
The same compassion Jesus had when he said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” and when Stephen said “Lay not this sin to their charge.” is the same compassion we should have towards our enemies. We should love them beyond forgiveness and go as far as to ask God to forget about what they did. Job repented on behalf of his children, and we should do the same for those who are offenders, not only of us, but of God. I figure, the more I pray that way for people, the less the enemy wants to use them against me. If every time the enemy used someone to hurt you, he only drove you to your knees in deep, loving, compassionate, intercession for their soul, believe me, he would change his strategy.
Another holy habit to practice is blessing the name of the Lord whenever anyone hurts you.
I have been deceived..blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been talked about…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been cheated on…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been cheated out of…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been lied on…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been wrongfully accused…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been used…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been abused…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been taken advantage of…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been put down…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been bullied…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been intimidated…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been made to feel unworthy…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been made to feel inadequate…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been oppressed…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been persecuted…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been hated without cause…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have had my reputation tarnished…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been stolen from…blessed be the name of the Lord.
I have been humiliated…blessed be the name of the Lord.
Why bless the Lord when these things happen? Because He will avenge you. He will show himself strong on your behalf. When you emerge from the fires that your enemies light around you, you will be purified and made even more holy, acceptable, and valuable to the Kingdom of God.
Our weapons are not of this world, and we do not make war in the flesh. We don’t battle people. We love people. We battle spirits. Sometimes your enemies will not accept your love face to face. They may not allow you near them to “do good”. That is why you must pray for them. Love them in the Holy Ghost. Pray for their souls and bless them with love and kindness in the Spirit. When you do get the chance to be kind and love them outside of the prayer room, do it. Do it with sincerity, and the Lord will deal with their heart.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be 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. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore 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. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
I love that last verse. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. It won’t be a walk in the park, but with the strength of God, you can do it. I heard someone say “Don’t ask God to teach you to love, but ask God to love through you”. It can save a soul. In the process, your wounds will be closed up, and you will be healed.