I Was Just Thinking About – ENEMIES.
As we approach Independence Day in our nation, we are reminded of the courageous stand taken by the founders of this nation. They took a stand against an enemy who was superior in numbers and armaments and defeated them. It allowed for the birth of this nation – a land of the free and the home of the brave. What should be done with modern day enemies? From the founding of the nation up to the present day, the original enemy has now become an ally. The first President of the new nation was George Washington. He acknowledged and said: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
Later, John Quincy Adams stated: “Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”
When considering the concept of an enemy becoming an ally, I was watching a religious where a question was raised about personal enemies and how one should respond to them. The reply was correctly stated as the viewer was directed to Matthew 5:44-45, “Jesus said: I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” In Luke 6:25, Jesus reminds His followers: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers treated the false prophets in the same way.” (The word “woe” should be considered because it entails: “grievous distress, affliction, or trouble.”)
How should the Biblical Christian respond to one who is perceived to be an enemy? If true, can that enemy become an ally? After viewing the television program, I was reading in the Insight For Living devotional for today. Charles R. Swindoll was dealing with the same type issue but strictly from the spiritual perspective. The devotional raised two questions to be considered: “First, is there someone or something I have refused to forget, which keeps me from being happy and productive? If your answer is yes, stop right now and declare it openly to your Lord. Ask Him to take away the pain and the bitterness. Second, am I a victim of self-pity, living out my days emotionally paralyzed by anguish and despair? If your answer is yes, stop and consider the consequences of living the rest of your life excusing your self-pity rather than turning it all over to the only One who can remove it.”
The context of both Matthew 5 and Luke 6 uses one active noun of how the follower of Jesus Christ is to respond to an actual or perceived enemy. That word is: love (to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person). It means one is to have agape for others. It is the expression used about God’s love for the world – (John 3:16); it is the requirement of Jesus’ disciples if they are to impact their world for Him – “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” – (John 13:35); it the word used for the presence of the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life – (Galatians 5:22); it is the word used for a husband’s action toward his wife – (Ephesians 5:25); it is the word indicating how one is to relate to his neighbor – (Matthew 19:19); and one is to love his enemies – Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:35).
The Biblical teaching of how a child of God is to act toward and relate to all people in all walks of life is to be filled with God’s agape – His love in us and being expressed by us. It is God’s will for His people to believe His directive in their lives always. It should not matter to one if in the church attended one encounters a contentious and critical person. There are and will be enemies present. The determining factor is not who is in the church but how “I” react and respond to them. In a different context (Second Corinthians 514), Paul indicated: “The LOVE of Christ compels, controls, constrains us…” Does the love of Christ compel, control and constrain you - today?
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.