Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Get Rid of an Enemy

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 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; 45 That ye may be the children of
your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and
sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward
have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye
more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father
which is in heaven is perfect. –Matthew 5:43-48 (KJV)

When Jesus instructed His disciples to love their enemies and do good to those who hate them,
it was a radical teaching for the day. This is still a radical teaching. Our natural inclination is
to hate those who have wronged us and want possibly to exact revenge. Jesus’ words turn the
world’s way of thinking on its head. Not only are we commanded to love our enemies, but also
to do good to them. Why would Jesus teach this? For starters, we are called to be children of
our heavenly Father. We are not to be like the world, for we are called to be like Christ. His
ways are not the world’s ways – not by a long shot.

When we seek to apply this to our lives we meet with a radical and revolutionary way of dealing
with others. We are transformed from a way of thinking that seeks self and moved toward
sacrificial love which seeks to glorify Christ while simultaneously winning over our enemy.
There is no joy or peace for the Christian who harbors hatred and vengeance in his heart. Should
we entertain such thoughts, better known as holding a grudge, we are robbed of the peace of
Christ meant to be ours. On the other hand, when we overcome hatred with the love of Jesus we
experience the fullness of Christ functioning in us.

Part of this overcoming process involves letting go of any thoughts of revenge and replacing it
with prayer and yes, love for our enemies. If we were to go against what Christ has commanded
we will only make matters worse. C.S. Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity” explained this
principle as follows: "Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as
if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if
you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you
will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking
him less."

This is wonderfully practical advice for us as followers of Christ. I understand all too well how
difficult people can be and hard it is to love them, especially those who have hurt us. However,
when we put our faith into action and we practice what Jesus has commanded, we are liberated
from the chains of hatred.

Do you have an enemy you want to get rid of? Pray that he or she will somehow, through your
prayers and consistent Christ-like witness, become your friend.

God bless you today.