“But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do well to those hating you, and pray for those abusing and persecuting you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-44
Enemies – Is God sovereign? Does He have His hand on every aspect of your life? If you answered, “Yes,” then you might be surprised at one of the implications: God picks your enemies according to your needs.
Did you think that your enemies were just accidental encounters, the result of bad karma or a twist of fate? Not if God is sovereign. Your enemies are deliberately placed in the engineering of your life in order that God’s glory might be accomplished in the process. That means they are exactly what you need to become more like His Son.
Jesus probably used the Hebrew word ‘oyev. In the Greek text, the word is echthrous. While the Old Testament usage includes nations, apostates, the wicked and all those opposed to Israel and Israel’s God, this New Testament word focuses attention on the personal enemy – the one who is hostile to you, to your God and to all things God desires. The ultimate example of the enemy is Satan, who unashamedly hates God.
Do you have enemies? If you are living according to God’s point of view, you can’t avoid having enemies. Jesus told us that if the world hated Him, it would also hate us. We should expect enemies. They are part of the plan. If you don’t have enemies, you might want to question just how committed you are to God’s holiness.
The amazing thing is not that you have enemies. Rather, it is that these enemies are hand-picked by your Lord in order that you will have the opportunity to glorify Him. Let that sink in. Then you will know why (and how) you are to pray for your enemies. You can start by thanking God for them. They are the sharpening stones of your sanctification. Then you can bless them. They are God’s creatures, desperately in need of His grace. Then you can lift them up before His throne, earnestly interceding on their behalf that they will find the true comfort of their souls. Finally, you can offer yourself as the sacrifice needed to rescue them. Who knows your enemies better than you? Your presence in their lives is no accident. You carry the cross of their reconciliation.
We are all enemies until the Lord redeems us. Those who oppose you today only stand in the shoes you wore yesterday. If God can count you as friend, you who so violently cast Him aside, how can you not embrace the one who stands where you were?