Responding to Enemies – Part 3 of 3

So far, we have seen six biblical responses to our enemies: love them, bless them, lend to/invest in them, do good to them, pray for them, and do not rejoice when they fall. Today, we look at the final three responses.

But, before we do, have you felt convicted of anything over the past few posts? Is God bringing to light any mistreatment of your enemies on your behalf? Have you been able to love them? Pray for them? If not, what is preventing you from following these biblical commands? If so, what has been their response?

Okay, back the responses…

  1. Treat them as you would like to be treated. This is the golden rule, the royal law. Luke 6:31 plainly says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It doesn’t get any more straightforward than that. This is another response that is easy to say we believe it, but another thing to actually do it. Yes, I want to be extended grace… but do I want to show others grace? By its very definition, grace is unearned, it is free. But how often do we put conditions upon our grace? When we do, it isn’t grace; it becomes a performance based response. This isn’t biblical. I am so grateful that God does not deal with me based upon my performance… yet I require others to perform in order to earn my grace. This is especially true of “enemies.” They must repent before I forgive them. They must pay an eye-for-an-eye before they are no longer an enemy. Nope. That’s not what the Bible says…
  2. Help with their need or burdens. This is where the Bible gets very practical. In Exodus 23:5, it says “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.” The modern equivalent of this would be to see your enemy stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire or empty gas tank. You may want to smile or laugh as you pass by, but that would not be a biblical response. You need to roll up your sleeves, help them with the tire, or give them a ride to the gas station and then pay for their gas! Proverbs also instructs us, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink” (25:21). When you see an enemy of yours who needs something or is burdened, HELP THEM! You will notice that there are no conditions on these responses. Help them if… Nope, you just help them.
  3. Turn the other cheek. Enemies will strike you. They will come after you. That is why they are considered enemies. Listen to Jesus’ recommendation: “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes you coat, do not withhold your shirt from them” (Luke 6:29). Can you imagine the patience, the calmness it takes to do this? If someone hits me, I’m looking for them with a clenched fist and burning anger. If someone takes my coat, I try to take it back. How are we to do this? This is where I offer some useful tip or story, but I can’t. Honestly. I’m obviously still working through this one.

In light of these nine responses to our enemies, what should we do. If I may make a few suggestions:

  1. Start with prayer. While it is number five on the list, this is the one where I believe we should start. There is something that happens when you enter the throne room of God and humbly ask His blessings upon your enemy.
  2. Realize that you are powerless to change the other person. You can’t change them, only God can. You are responsible for your actions, so do everything you can to follow the nine responses outlined above and let God do the rest. I know it is cliché to say “Let God be God,” but it is true nonetheless. I believe this is what Paul had in mind when he said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Be open to reconciliation, but let God work on them.
  3. Don’t go it alone. You must not only turn this all over to God, but seek godly council from wiser men and women. Avoid gossip and slander at all costs; approach them with humility, be gentle and gracious, and be open to rebuke, encouragement, and challenges. You may not be seeing the situation clearly. Mentors can help.

These are the nine biblical responses to your enemies.

I often wonder how this would look for a government to embrace these ideas about foreign policy and war. I often wonder how these principles could work on a local level to transform communities or the local church. Mostly, I wonder how many families would be reconciled if we truly tried to live out our faith when responding to enemies or perceived enemies.