How Do You Deal With Your Biggest Enemy?

Thoughts on our enemies

Jenny Calvert
Koinonia

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Our world is in upheaval with wars and rumors of wars. Each one declares their enemies and may even protest in the streets, proclaiming rights for their friends and admonition for their enemies.

You will hear about wars and reports of wars. Don’t be alarmed. These things must happen, but this isn’t the end yet. Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in all sorts of places. But all these things are just the beginning of the sufferings associated with the end. (Matthew 24:6–8, CEB)

This Bible verse concerns the end times. I am not here to talk about that. No one knows the hour or the day when the end is here.

I want to talk about our enemies.

We all make decisions in our lives about who we like and who we dislike. I remember a scene on a television show when the new girl in the office lets down her long, beautiful locks of hair. Two women in the office watching on the sidelines have a funny conversation like this, “Remind me. We don’t like her. Do we?”

Sometimes, our enemy is decided through jealousy. Other times, it is someone who cheated, harmed, or hurt us. Possibly, our enemy is a group of people or even a nation. The Bible has something to say about that.

You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbors and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43–45, CEB)

My dialog with the Lord:

Are you kidding me, Lord? Must I pray and forgive this person? Do you know what they did to me? You want me to love them? It’s impossible.

First off, the Lord said to forgive. He never said we had to be their best friend and have them over for dinner. Releasing our anger to God is a gift for ourselves.

Secondly, yes, the Lord knows what they did. He is not heartless to the pain and suffering they cause. He gently reminds me that He gave His life for His enemies, including us.

I am reminded of people who were examples of forgiveness.

Corrie ten Boom was one such person to whom God taught forgiveness. Years after the horrific ordeal of a prisoner camp, which took her sister’s life, the Nazi guard who humiliated, harmed, and scarred the women came up to Corrie at an event. With his hand outstretched to shake hers, he asked her for forgiveness. She froze. Here is her recollection:

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

“Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

(Guideposts Classics: Corrie ten Boom on Forgiveness)

Corrie forgave her enemy through the same forgiveness that Christ had given her. Through the strength of Jesus, she lifted her arm to clasp her once captor, releasing her soul from its invisible chains.

There is one last enemy we need to examine — ourselves!

Possibly, the one we need to forgive is the one who resided in our flesh. We hate ourselves for a myriad of reasons: we are too fat, too skinny, unorganized, manipulative, easily angered, unfaithful, complacent, indecisive, have evil thoughts, and do evil things. And unfortunately, we have to live in this body fighting our demons our whole earthly life.

It seems like a lifetime of tortious imprisonment.

Pray for that enemy. Ask God to help you to forgive that enemy. By the power of Jesus, break free from the cold chains that bind you. Be willing to reach up with both arms and wrap them around yourself. Then, ask God to let His feelings flow through you.

Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. (1 John 3:20, CEB)

How can we ever love the enemy in the mirror if we don’t first forgive?

Love God by forgiving yourself and by praying for your enemies. You have nothing to lose except the chains of anger and resentment.

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Jenny Calvert
Koinonia

Jenny is a Christian devotional writer. She writes for several magazines, books, and online venues, sharing the peace, hope, and light of Christ.