The online Merriam-Webster simple definition of the word enemy is “someone who hates another; someone who attacks or tries to harm another.”
Whew, that’s fierce, don’t you think? I’ve always thought of an enemy as someone I didn’t like. At all. But how many of us have enemies? Moreover, how many of us hate another? Further, how many of us attack or try to harm another?
Gosh. This doesn’t sound very Christian, now, does it? What about turning the other cheek, after all? And what about going two miles when someone forces us to go one?
Well, Friend, let’s address this issue together, shall we?
Did you know we are to love our enemies and pray for them? ‘Tis true. Jesus Christ declares in Matthew 5:38-48 that which we are to do concerning our enemies. In Matthew 5:43, Jesus specifically relates, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” He goes on to explain in verse 44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father, Who is in heaven….” I don’t know about you, but I sure wish to be His daughter and to live among my Father’s other sons and daughters.
I have read over the years in different sources that while we are flesh, the Holy Spirit that indwells us helps us to love our enemies and pray for them. I, for one, know that I would wholly be unable to love my enemies and pray for them if it were not the Holy Spirit doing it for me. I simply do not think I could do that on my own. I mean it’s hard enough just to obey Jesus’ command in John 13:34-35 to love one another. Even when those others are not our enemies.
Friend, there was a time in my life during which I fervently prayed for one of my enemies. I prayed for his joy, peace, and success. I prayed hard for those things. I also prayed that God would draw my enemy unto Himself and that He would soften his heart. I asked God to show my enemy that there is indeed a need for salvation.
And do you know what? The more I prayed for my enemy, the less I disliked him. The more I prayed for him, the more I wanted good things in his life. The more I prayed for him, the more peace and joy infiltrated MY soul. The more I prayed for him, the closer to God I grew. And remember, Friend: This was my enemy.
So, what do you think? Could you and I work hard to love and pray for our enemies together? I sure would like to. In my prayer journal, I have a line called “My Enemies.” I have my enemies’ initials listed in parentheses (in the unlikely case I forget who they are). And no, the enemy I mentioned earlier is not on the list. Because he is no longer my enemy. Admittedly, he is not really on my radar at all these days, but he is certainly NOT my enemy.
Turning the other cheek might be hard to do, but what say you we start with earnest prayer for and love toward our enemies? Friend, you just might glean peace and comfort and joy in your own heart when you lay your enemies at the feet of Jesus Christ.
January 29, 2016