Monthly Archives: November 2016

Thankful for My Enemies?

Thankful for My Enemies?

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In one twenty-four-hour period, I ran into two families who pretty much hate me. Once upon a time we had been friends. These encounters weren’t the first time I’ve seen these people, but, ironically, my personal devotion that day had been from Luke 6 about loving our enemies.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in a loving, sovereign God who has a way of dealing with my heart. If I know anything (and sometimes I wonder if I do), I know that God is far more committed to my character than He is to my comfort.

The good news—I didn’t feel anger or hate toward these people. I wasn’t anxious or afraid. But I did feel pain and the angst of loss.

Tossing and turning in bed last night, I said out loud, “God, how am I to deal with this situation and these people? I’ve asked them to forgive me, and I’ve forgiven them. I don’t know what else to do!”

He whispered to my soul, “Be thankful for your enemies.”

thankful-water-2

Not what I wanted or expected to hear from God.

You’ve heard it, and I’ve taught it: Be thankful in everything but not necessarily thankful for everything.

Yes, I’m supposed to be thankful in all things regardless of the good, the bad, or the ugly in my life. (Did someone just whistle?) But I don’t have to be thankful for cancer or for any other horrible thing that’s happened.

Thankfulness in all circumstances does not mean gratefulness for all circumstances. Thankful in but not always thankful for is good theology.

So God and I had a bit of a disagreement. “Father, I can be thankful in my pain and despite the sting of a broken relationship, but being thankful for these people, my enemies, is just stupid!”

The heavens were silent.

“Okay, God, why?”

Then it hit me.

I can be thankful for my enemies because of the way God is using them to mold and change me into the image of His Son. (You might want to go back and read that last line again.)

  • My enemy provides an opportunity for me to love the unlovely even as God has loved me.

  • thankful-picMy enemy provides a path for personal blessing. I get blessed by God when I love the haters, and I can rejoice in a reward that will someday be mine in heaven.

  • My enemy provides a profound opportunity for me to practice the golden rule.

  • My enemy provides me with a chance to be more like my Father, who is kind and merciful to the ungrateful and wicked.

By the way, all of the above can be found in Luke 6 (you should click on this link and read verses 22-36).

Of course, we are supposed to love everyone, but why should you and I be thankful for those who curse and hate us?

Because our enemies help us to grow.

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Being thankful for those who hate me changes my fear about them or my frustration with them into a radically different perspective.

My enemy is a gift. A gift I can be thankful for.

Didn’t see that one coming, but I’m glad I did.

Blessed are you when people hate you,

when they exclude you and insult you

and reject your name as evil,

because of the Son of Man.

 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,

because great is your reward in heaven.

For that is how their ancestors

treated the prophets.

Luke 6: 22-23

 

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12 Responses to Thankful for My Enemies?

  1. Kurt … Outstanding insight. It hurts when God starts chipping away from us those things that don’t look like Jesus.

    I’m a slow learner unfortunately.

    Then there are those precious times I’ve perceived someone to be against me and I had the wrong messages floating around my gray matter.

    Ron

  2. Wow. The line “God is more interested in my character than my comfort” really stood out & spoke to me!
    Hard stuff but God told me years ago not only to forgive but to bless.

  3. I’m right there right now and it’s been hard to come to church feeling the shame. How can God and his people love me when one of my closest family members and family have chosen to disowned and reject me for the rest of my life? Your messages have been a comfort to me. I’ve grown more through this experience so I have to be thankful for this. I still pray for reconciliation, but it’s healing to hear that I’m not alone in this experience.

    • Hi Judy, it’s hard not to believe the lies we are told (and sometimes tell ourselves)… I’m so sorry for the relational conflict you’re experiencing with your family. Know I am praying for you right now. Know too…you are loved…no matter what. Blessings.

  4. Hi Kurt,
    This post brings to my remembrance of Proverbs 27:
    17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

    When we take the mindset behind this verse, and apply it to any enemies that we face instead of friends, I believe that spiritual growth or maturity is the end result. Well, at least to a certain extent.

    Also, weaker tempered iron is sharpened by a harder tempered iron. The one being sharpened, wouldn’t overcome the one that’s sharpening it. There may be a blog post in that somewhere…

    Great post and very informative!
    God bless,
    Brian Reynolds

A Call to Love and Unity

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It’s early and I was up late, too late, watching the election results. I’ll keep this short, but if I’m your pastor (or friend) then I beg you to read this slowly and thoughtfully.

Regardless of whether you are happy or not about the election results—if you are a Christ-follower you are called to love.

We are never given the option to pick and choose whom we will love.

We are to love our neighbors (even the grumpy ones).

We are to love our family (even the dysfunctional ones).

We are to love those who are right and those who are wrong (perfection and performance are never a basis for love).

We are to love those who persecute us.

We are to love our enemies.

And yes, we are to love Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and all.

For those who follow Jesus there is no wiggle room here. Love is not an option, a suggestion, or even just a good idea. Love is a command.

We love as we are loved by the Father. A love that embraced us at our absolute worst by the way.

And for the record, love is a choice not just an emotion.

A choice to care for another whether they care for or about us or not.

A choice to serve with humility, and do what is best for someone else.

A choice to surrender our rights and our needs, and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

And dare I say it, a choice to place our political views below, well below, our call to treat one another with honor, compassion, gentleness, and forbearance (Gal. 5:22-23).

So whether you are terrified or thrilled about the election results of 2016, I implore you to love one another. Love is the one command which encompasses all (yes, all) of our relationships.

Those around you are watching and listening.

Are you demonstrating faith?

Are you modeling love for the unloveable?

Are you being kind with your words and in your actions?

Are you gloating or perhaps the opposite extreme, being consumed by fear?

If you follow Jesus, you have chosen a different and better path.

Love.

Enough said.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27 (NIV)

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