Enemies

* Loving enemies

The thought of being kind to enemies was new and startling in a world where revenge was the common form of justice.  God not only introduced this idea to the Israelites, he made it law!  If a man found a lost animal owned by his enemy, he was to return it at once, even if his enemy might use it to harm him.  Jesus clearly taught to reach out to all people in need, even our enemies.  Following the laws of right living is hard enough with friends.  When we apply God’s laws of fairness and kindness to our enemies, we show how different we are from the world.  (NLT)

Exodus 23:4-5 – “If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has strayed away, take it back to its owner.  If you see the donkey of someone who hates you struggling beneath a heavy load, do not walk by.  Instead, stop and offer to help.”

* – Saul tried to kill David because he was jealous of David’s popularity, yet David continued to protect and comfort Saul.  Perhaps people have been jealous of you and have even attacked you in some way.  They may be intimidated by your strengths, which make them conscious of their own short-comings.  It would be natural to strike back or to avoid them.  A better response is to befriend them and to ask God for the strength to continue to love them, as David kept on loving Saul.  (NLT)

1 Samuel 18:11-12 – suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall.  But David jumped aside and escaped.  This happened another time, too, for Saul was afraid of him, and he was jealous because the Lord had left him and was now with David.

* – David was angry at being attacked by evil people who slandered him and lied.  Yet David remained a friend and a man of prayer.  While we must hate evil and work to overcome it, we must love everyone, including those who do evil, because God loves them.  We are called to hate the sin, but love the person.  Only through God’s strength will we be able to follow David’s example. (NLT)

Psalm 109:4 – I love them, but they try to destroy me—even as I am praying for them!

* – By telling us not to retaliate, Jesus keeps us from taking the law into our own hands.  By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good.

Jesus says we are to love our enemies.  If you love your enemies and treat them well, you will truly show that Jesus is Lord of your life.  This is possible only for those who give themselves fully to God, because only he can deliver people from natural selfishness.  We must trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we may not feel love. (NLT)

Matthew 5:43-44 – [Jesus said] “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!”

* – The Jews despised the Romans because they oppressed God’s people, but Jesus told the people to love these enemies.  Such words turned many away from Christ.  But Jesus wasn’t talking about having affection for enemies; he was talking about an act of the will.  You can’t “fall into” this kind of love—it takes conscious effort.  Loving our enemies means acting in their best interests.  We can pray for them, and we can think of ways to help them.  Jesus loved the whole world, even though the world was in rebellion against God.  Jesus asks us to follow his example by loving our enemies.  Grant your enemies the same respect and rights as you desire for yourself.  (NLT)

Luke 6:27 – [Jesus said] “But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.”

* Do you believe God can help you with enemies?

God assured Moses that Israel’s enemy was conquered even before the battle began!  God wants to give us victory over our enemies (which are usually problems related to sin rather than armed soldiers).  But first we must believe that he can help us.  Second, we must trust him to help us.  Third, we must take the steps he shows us. (NLT)

Numbers 21:34 – The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have given you victory over Og and his entire army, giving you all his land.  You will do the same to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.”

* God has already defeated our enemies

God told Joshua that Jericho was already delivered into his hands—the enemy was already defeated!  What confidence Joshua must have had as he went into battle!  Christians also fight against a defeated enemy. Our enemy, Satan, has been defeated by Christ.  Although we still fight battles every day and sin runs rampant in the world, we have the assurance that the war has already been won.  We do not have to be paralyzed by the power of a defeated enemy; we can overcome him through Christ’s power. (NLT)

Joshua 6:2-5 – But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its mighty warriors.  Your entire army is to march around the city once a day for six days.  Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn.  On the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the horns.  When you hear the priests give one long blast on the horns, have all the people give a mighty shout.  Then the walls of the city will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the city.”

* God not intimidated by lots of enemies

Jonathan and his armor bearer weren’t much of a force to attack the huge Philistine army.  But while everyone else was afraid, they trusted God, knowing that the size of the enemy army would not restrict God’s ability to help them.  God honored the faith and brave action of these two men with a tremendous victory.

Have you ever felt surrounded by the “enemy” or faced overwhelming odds?  God is never intimidated by the size of the enemy or the complexity of a problem.  With him, there are always enough resources to resist the pressures and win the battle.  If God has called you to actions, then bravely commit what resources you have to God, and rely upon him to lead you to victory.  (NLT)

1 Samuel 14:6 – “Let’s go across to see those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer.  “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord.  He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

* Are differences bigger than common goals?

The events recorded in chapter 2 led to a long war between David’s followers and the troops loyal to Abner and Ishbosheth.  Civil war rocked the country at great cost to both sides.  This war occurred because Israel and Judah had lost sight of God’s vision and purpose: to settle the land, to drive out the Canaanites, and to obey God’s laws.  Instead of uniting to accomplish these goals, they fought each other.  When you face conflict, step back from the hostilities and consider whether you and your enemy have common goals that are bigger than your differences.  Appeal to those interests as you work for a settlement. (NLT)

2 Samuel 3:1 – That was the beginning of a long war between those who had been loyal to Saul and those who were loyal to David.  As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.

* Who our enemies are

Seventy-two psalms—almost half the book—speak about enemies.  Enemies are those who oppose not only us, but also God’s way of living.  We can view temptations—money, success, prestige, lust—as our enemies.  And our greatest enemy is Satan.  David asked God to keep his enemies from overcoming hi because they opposed what God stood for.  If his enemies succeeded, David feared that many would think that living for God was futile.  David did not question his own faith—he knew that God would triumph.  But he didn’t want his enemies’ success to be an obstacle to the faith of others. (NLT)

Psalm 25:2 – I trust in you, my God!  Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.

* When you feel surrounded by enemies

“You drove out the pagan nations” refers to the conquest of Canaan (the Promised Land) described in the book of Joshua.  God gave the land to the Israelites; they were supposed to enter and drive out anyone who was wicked and opposed to God.  Israel was told to settle the land and to be a witness to the world of God’s power and love.  Surrounded by enemies, the psalmist remembered what God had done for his people and took heart.  We can have this same confidence in God when we feel attacked. (NLT)

Psalm 44:1-3 – O God, we have heard it with our own ears—our ancestors have told us of all you did in other days, in days long ago: You drove out the pagan nations and gave all the land to our ancestors; you crushed their enemies, setting our ancestors free.  They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strength that gave them victory.  It was by your mighty power that they succeeded; it was because you favored them and smiled on them.

* Our reluctance to share God’s love with enemies

Nineveh was a powerful and wicked city.  Jonah had grown up hating the Assyrians and fearing heir atrocities.  His hatred was so strong that he didn’t want them to receive God’s mercy.  Jonah was actually afraid the people would repent.  Jonah’s attitude is representative of Israel’s reluctance to share God’s love and mercy with others, even though this was their God—given mission.  They, like Jonah, did not want non-Jews (Gentiles) to obtain God’s favor. (NLT)

Jonah 1:3 – But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.  He went down to the seacoast, to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by going away to the west he could escape from the Lord.

* Resolving differences with enemies quickly

In Jesus’ day, someone who couldn’t pay a debt was thrown into prison until the debt was paid.  Unless someone came to pay the debt for the prisoner, he or she would probably die there.  It is practical advice to resolve our differences with our enemies before their anger causes more trouble.  You may not get into a disagreement that takes you to court, but even small conflicts mend more easily if you try to make peace right away.  In a broader sense, these verses advise us to get things right with our brothers and sisters before we have to sand before God. (NLT)

Matthew 5:25-26 – [Jesus said] “Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail.  I assure you that you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.”

* Be prepared for enemies

Jesus said he was sending his disciples out “as lambs among wolves.”  They would have to be careful because they would surely meet with opposition.  We, too, are sent into the world like lambs among wolves.  Be alert, and remember to face your enemies, not with aggression but with love and gentleness.  A dangerous mission requires sincere commitment. (NLT)

Luke 10:3 – [Jesus said] “Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.”

* Can Christians dislike enemies?

Does this mean that if you dislike someone you aren’t a Christian?  These verses are not talking about disliking a disagreeable Christian brother or sister.  There will always be people we will not like as well as others.  John’s words focus on the attitude that causes us to ignore or despise others, to treat them as irritants, competitors, or enemies.  Christian love is not a feeling but a choice.  We can choose to be concerned with people’s well-being and treat them with respect, whether or not we feel affection toward them.  If we choose to love others, God will help us express our love. (NLT)

1 John 2:9-11 – If anyone says, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.  Anyone who loves other Christians is living in the light and does not cause anyone to stumble.  Anyone who hates a Christian brother or sister is living and walking in darkness.  Such a person is lost, having been blinded by the darkness.

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