One of the nooks of our hearts where sin likes to hide is in our emotional responses to negative stimuli. Our enemies have an uncanny knack for pushing our buttons and will do so on occasion just to set us off.
With God’s help, we can disconnect these emotional buttons so that our enemies can try to push them all day long, and the only reaction that they’ll get out of us is one of love.
This is the subject of Matthew 5, “44.love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (NAS). This is a neat concept, because it’s one of the most unnatural ideas that the Word asks us to put into action. Nowhere else in nature does an organism say to itself, “Hm, this thing wants to devour me. I wonder what I can do to show it that I love it?” It actually sounds silly, but it’s hugely powerful.
If you don’t love your enemy – if you don’t turn the other cheek, and you react in anger – you sin. What does that mean? It distances you from God, your source for joy, love and self-control. This sets you up for a downward spiral of sin made up of anger, hatred and bad decisions.
If you do love your enemy, no matter how difficult they try to make it for you, you steal the victory. On top of that, you’re planting seeds in the heart of your enemy that God will try to germinate.
It’s important to realize that God wants a relationship with your enemy as badly as He desires a relationship with you.
You’re like a servant delivering a message from your master. The recipient will sometimes accept the message gladly, and offer you some refreshment when you arrive at his door. Other times, the recipient might tear up the message and spit in your face. It’s your duty to be a good ambassador for your master and to uphold His name. You can’t afford to dirty God’s name and reputation by spitting back and starting a fight. Your master doesn’t approve of that kind of behavior. In fact, He wants you to wish the bad recipient a good day, and to thank him for his time.
In nature, the closest example of this behavior is in that of animals that have shells, like snails, turtles, and even the armadillo. When an attacker comes, they go into their shell and let the enemy do their worst. That’s NOT what God asks us to do.
God asks us to love our enemy and to pray for those who persecute us. This isn’t a platitude. God really wants us to intercede for those who attack us. When you think about it, you’re getting a window into this person’s heart, and you’ll know better how to pray for your enemy than any other person walking down the street.
Use spiritual guerilla warfare – take any weapon that the enemy tosses your way, and use it as prayer material. Don’t just ask that God would give Joe Meanie a nice day. If Joe Meanie is reacting out of stress and dumps an unfair load of work on you and in so many words, dares you to complain, pray that his stress would be reduced, and ask the Lord for help in making Joe’s life easier. Moreover, do everything within your power to get this unfair load done and then ask for more.