Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In Dealing with Enemies

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Somebody said, “One of the greatest and most beautiful things man can do is to reconcile, and make friends, those who are enemies. Both Martin Luther and John Bunyan brought their great lives to a close in an attempt to reconcile men: Luther, two brothers; Bunyan, a father and a son. Likewise, if we may say it, the greatest and the most beautiful act of God is his working out a plan of reconciliation of man with God by the precious blood of Christ.”[1]

The Scriptures provided a clear pattern in dealing with our enemies, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22). Another stated, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles” (Proverbs 24:17). In the New Testament, Jesus said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Paul emphasized, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”On the contrary, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:19-21). What do these verses mean? Albert Schweitzer, a French-German theologian, provided this simple explanation, “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” However, Abraham Lincoln offered a brilliant perspective in dealing with his enemies, "Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?"

Here are five godly ways to deal with an enemy according to Simone Williams shared in an article called The Praying[2]

1.     Avoid the conflict –Paul says in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” In other words – as Christians, we should avoid conflict once we can. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26: “be angry and sin not“.

2.     Do not hold a grudge. In Ephesians 4:31, it says: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you.“ Instead, follow Benson’s Commentary; “Conquer your enemies with kindness and patience, which is the most glorious victory.”

3.     Do not try to get back at the person. We are not God! His word is clear in Romans 12:17,19:“Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord”. Stop playing God and leave it alone. 

4.     Continue doing good to/for that person. Proverbs 25:21 says: ”If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Barnes' Notes on the Bible described how it is done, “Show them the loveliness of a better spirit; the power of kindness and benevolence; the value of an amiable, Christian attitude. So doing, you may disarm them of their rage, and be the means of bringing them to better minds.”

5.     Take the matter to God. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7:“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“. When we take it to God, He will give us the grace to endure. He will give us the grace to do the four things (among others) mentioned above. He will give us the grace to continue shining for Him in the midst of enormous pressure.

Finally, we can learn from Nelson Mandela’s principle in dealing with enemies, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”[3]

Let’s talk again!

[1] Reconciliation Sermon Illustrations. (n.d.). Retrieved from
[2] Simone Williams, Five Godly Ways to Deal With Your Enemies - The Praying. (n.d.). Retrieved from
[3] ?If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to ... (n.d.). Retrieved from