An enemy is anyone who may show hostility or ill will toward us, or seek to harm us. None of us is entirely free from the unhappiness caused by the wrongs of others. Our inclination may be to retaliate or “get even.” But the Word of God always speaks of a different kind of response:
• “Live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18, NIV).
• “Repay no one evil for evil” (Romans 12:17).
• “Do not take revenge” (Romans 12:19, NIV).
• “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” (Matthew 5:44).
Certain attitudes and actions tend to create enemies or widen differences:
• Selfish actions or lack of sensitivity toward others.
• Unwillingness to realize that we may be the “offender” rather than the “offended.”
• Talking about people rather than to them; “putting them down” or criticizing their attitudes and actions instead of humbly confronting them.
• Deliberately ignoring a tense situation rather than trying to correct it.
• Believing that we are morally superior because we have found something to condemn in someone else.
• Refusing to “go the second mile” or to “turn the other cheek” as taught in Scripture. Forgiveness is the essence of the redeemed life: “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
• Disobeying God’s directive to love our enemies, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them (Matthew 5:44).
1. Reassure the inquirer that God is mindful of us in every situation. His Word has something to say about enemies.
2. Ask if he or she has ever received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If not, share the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD.
3. If the inquirer is a Christian, encourage a renewal of commitment to Christ. Review spiritual Restoration – Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION, emphasizing 1 John 1:9 and Romans 12:1. A new or renewed relationship with Christ should help to bring a new perspective to feelings about enemies.
4. Ask the following questions, which may open some windows of understanding about reconciliation. Make an effort to understand the situation. Request information about the people and problems involved:
A. What caused the break in the relationship?
B. Has the inquirer contributed to the problem?
C. As far as he or she can determine, what is the attitude of the other person? Is the inquirer being totally honest in trying to evaluate the situation?
D. Ask how he or she feels about the “enemy”: resentful? embittered? harboring ill will?
E. Emphasize that he or she has the obligation to forgive, with all that this implies. He or she is to take the first step toward reconciliation. The mature Christian will always assume the responsibility for being a peacemaker. Highlight the attitude of Christ, who never demanded His “rights.” Though He was reviled and spat upon, He didn’t retaliate.
F. Stress that it is in the inquirer’s best interest to clear up the situation as early as possible: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court . . . or he may hand you over to the judge . . . and you may be thrown into prison. . . . You will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25–26, NIV).
G. Any approach to reconciliation must be made with humility, remembering that none of us is without sin: “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
H. Prayer must be sincerely offered for the other person, with one’s own heart open to solutions.
I. Pray with the inquirer, asking God to intervene by working with both parties for a successful solution.
J. Ask what he or she intends to do as the first step toward reconciliation; delayed action will hinder reconciliation.
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
“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, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:44–46).
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:34).
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
“Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11).
Other suggested Scriptures:
2 Timothy 2:22
See also Forgiveness
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996