Responding to Our Enemies

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake”  (Matt. 5:11).

How do we handle a person who reviles us, persecutes us, and says things about us which are not true? The natural response is to retaliate and get even. But how are we to respond to our enemies and be pleasing unto God? Let us go to His Word for the answers.

1.    REJOICE if we are being mistreated because we are faithfully serving the Lord. If we are suffering because of our evil deeds, then we should be ashamed. However, the Apostle Peter tells us— “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter”
(1 Pet. 3:15-16). Notice the next verse following our text: “Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5: 12). Although some may seek to make our lives miserable here on earth, our reward in heaven will be great if we remain faithful while we are hurting for His sake.

2.    LOVE THEM, DO GOOD TO THEM, AND PRAY FOR THEM. This is what Jesus was teaching in  Matthew 5:44: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Normally, we will have to do a lot of praying for  ourselves, asking for strength, before we will be able to do this for our enemies. But we will reap many benefits if we can sincerely do what Jesus commands in this passage. Again, let us observe the inspired words of the Apostle Peter, as it relates to this kind of situation.  “...not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing”   (1 Pet. 3:9).  Remember—this is the example Jesus left for us and we are to follow in His steps.  “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth,’ who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously”
(1 Pet. 2:21-23).

 3.    TURN IT OVER TO GOD.  When men crucified our Lord, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34).  In one short prayer, we find Jesus loving His enemies, blessing His enemies, and praying for His enemies. The Apostle Paul tells us to turn it over to God when he said: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19-21). This is basically what Christ was teaching in His “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5:38-48.

In a sense, we are being good to ourselves when we are good to our enemies.  May the Lord help and be with us when we are meeting the challenge of correctly  responding to our enemies.