Proverbs 24:17-18 “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”
One of the most challenging directives from God is to those we deem unlovable – to us.
We take up the cause of the victim and despise the abuser. We mourn for the one who suffered a loss but reject the one by whose hand it came.
It is hard for us not to judge. For some, we walk on the other side of the street when we see a homeless person. We try not to meet their eyes lest we be drawn in by their plight. We avoid specific neighborhoods that have a higher crime rate.
We embrace what is safe and comfortable.
Often, we try to create a world without hunger, crime, or violence. But God tells us it is inescapable.
Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Often, we may try and fail when the opportunity presents itself to show love to our enemies. Unless our hearts are prepared in advance, we will fail miserably.
I cannot love my enemies with my love or with my strength. I will be overtaken with my own hatred, vengeance, or sense of justice. I can only fulfill God’s command with His love.
As our passage states, “Rejoice NOT when thine enemy falleth…”
I must admit, I had rejoiced when someone I counted an adversary was hurt or fallen. To remove me from taking up those emotions, I must ask God to guide and direct my heart. Essentially, I must be dead to that part of me that takes offense.
I am still amazed at how my Savior could look at those who mocked Him, beat Him, and hammered the nails into His hands and feet with such love and forgiveness. Jesus kept His eyes on the ultimate goal – the redemption of mankind unto Himself.
When He said:
Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
Or when we are to turn the other cheek.
Matthew 5:38-39 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Many think these actions are unmanly, weak, and passive.
It takes more manliness to take what comes without retaliation, to be stricken and not strike back, than to throw down and go to fists with someone.
If we allow it, we can be inundated with information regarding the injustices of this world. We can watch 24/7 news and read social media regarding who said what, who did what to whom, and it is all presented to us in real-time.
God gave us a filter for all of it.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
If what we see, read, or hear does not fall into this command, we must reject it, leave off thinking about it, and avoid it. Many will argue that to relate to this generation, we need to understand their worldview and connect to relevant topics.
God tells us it is detrimental to our spirit.
When presented with the opportunity to minister to someone we deem an enemy, we must have forgiveness at the ready.
We all have preferences, prejudices, predetermined judgments, opinions, and favorites. Those not in that circle are not treated as well, not as readily accepted, and often kept at arm’s length.
Knowing ourselves, we must set aside those things that would slide into behavior that goes counter to God’s Word. Some avoid this by asking themselves, “What would Jesus do?”
But, can I say that unless we are prepared in advance, the strength of emotion may overtake us and never get to the question – let alone the answer.
That one you find so offensive, when was the last time you prayed for them?
When was the last time you tried to do good to them?
From the heart, when we can honestly say we have forgiven them, it is only then we can be ready to face them with God’s love and forgiveness.
For some, it is a daunting task. The atrocities done by one human to another get more horrific as time goes on. How could someone be so evil? Because they often have had evil done unto them.
We must remember:
Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
If hatred and blame are to be affixed, it lies with the one who is the source of all evil. Satan, our sworn enemy, is behind it all.
Walk with God daily.
Have forgiveness ready for those who will offend. Then, allow God’s love to flow through you to that one in such desperate need.