Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Love Journey: Care For Your Enemies

on March 3, 2014

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I feel like doing for someone that I don’t particularly care for, is to provide for them.  I don’t feel like expressing genuine concern for a person who has been intentionally disrespectful toward me, especially if that disrespect has happened over an extended period of time, has been blatant, or even intentional.

One thing I find myself wondering is this:  what makes someone my enemy?

There is a particular person in my life right now, that could possibly fall into this category.  This person has spoken disrespectfully about me to others in my life.  This person has placed judgments upon me, and come to conclusions about my character without ever taking the time to know me.  This person has taken words I have said or actions I have done, out of context, and has built up walls of steel between us.  This person has intentionally left me out of situations where I should have been included. This person has shared these feelings with others close to me, with the intention of turning them against me as well.  I attempted to communicate with this person about my concerns, tried to own up to any part I may have played in the situation, explaining that in no way was there ever a moment when I intended to be disrespectful or hurtful.  This person said, with words, that they appreciated my attempt to make amends, but their actions have not changed.  They continue to ostracize me and give me the “cold shoulder” at events where we are together.  This person is definitely in the “hard to love” category in my heart.  But…does that make this person my enemy?

Let’s see what scripture has to say about this.

Luke 6:27-28

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Psalm 109:2-5

For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

According to Luke 6 and Psalm 109, my enemy is someone who:

– hates me

-curses me

-abuses me

-lies about me

-accuses me

-attacks me without cause

-surrounds me with hateful words

You know, I find it so intriguing how my understanding of LIFE has changed so dramatically since becoming a follower of Christ.  This idea of enemy is a perfect example.  I used to think that the Bible was so antiquated, and not applicable to my life today because of the use of words like enemy.  I mean, I didn’t have enemies!  Uh-huh.

Anyway, so,  OK – I have an enemy.  I have more than one enemy actually. Truth be told, I am sure there are more people who dislike me than I am even aware of.  And that is actually OK.  If there is something I can do about the situation, I do it.  If not, I just have to accept it.

Something God has been revealing to me through this process of dealing with this particular person in my life, is that it is irrelevant how others choose to feel about me.  What matters, is how I choose to treat other people.  If someone dislikes me, is angry with me, or hurt as a direct result of an action that I have taken, or words I have said…then I am responsible for attempting to make the situation right.  (Remember the verse about “clearing my side of the street”?) Conversely, if someone chooses not to like me, to be rude or disrespectful to me, or falsely accuses me of something I did not do or say….then I am NOT responsible for making the situation right.  I AM RESPONSIBLE, however, for continuing to love this person and treat this person with respect.  I AM RESPONSIBLE for loving this person regardless of the love I get (or don’t get) back in return.  Boy!  This is a tough lesson to learn.  But I think I am beginning to get it.

Basically, to put it a little more bluntly: It is not my business whether or not people like me.  But, it IS my business how I choose to treat the people in my life.  They don’t have to be respectful to me.  But I DO have to treat them with respect and dignity.  I don’t have to like them, but I DO have to love them.  It is commanded of me.  God doesn’t tell me to love my neighbor if I feel like it, or if they are easy to love.  Rather, He commands me to LOVE my neighbors. End of story.  I am to love. It doesn’t matter how I feel.  It is how I am to BE.  I am to BE LOVE to others in my life. Regardless of who they are, how they feel about me, or whether or not I feel like it.  Wow. Seems hard, right??  Seems downright impossible sometimes.

God already knew that He was asking us to do something impossible for us when He called us to love our enemies.  He calls us to do many things that are impossible for us.  FOR US.  FOR ME.  I am only human.  I cannot do this without the strength of a much HIGHER POWER than my own.  I cannot, simply can NOT love well without Jesus.

Matthew 19:26 says it best:  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Before I conclude today, I wanted to take a look at the last part of Romans 12:20

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Really?  By being kind to my enemy, I will “heap burning coals on his head”?  I had to really stop and think about these last words.  Didn’t I just get done saying how I needed to be kind and loving simply because God commanded me to be?  Yet, this piece seems to speak to me of motive for choosing kindness.  Like, “If you do what Mommy says, you can have a piece of chocolate”.  It honestly feels a little like that.

So, I did a little research.  When Paul is speaking this line, he is actually quoting Proverbs 25:21-22: “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.” 

I also looked online for some other commentary regarding this passage. What I learned is this:  “heap burning coals on his head”  is a metaphoric representation of the way my enemy will feel when I respond to their lack of kindness with kindness.  It represents the conviction that will come over them when their hatred is met by my love.  When their attacks do not receive the reactions they are hoping for.  In fact, the whole point of treating my enemy with kindness is to create a change in their hearts, and to lead them toward repentance.  Imagine that – a change of heart, based solely on the fact that I acted like Jesus commands me to, instead of the way I feel like acting!  Now, wouldn’t that be something!!


Who are the enemies in your life?

How do you treat them?


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