Who is your enemy? And how do you respond to them?
Whenever I want to meditate on something I always start by using a dictionary. It's the best way I have found to jump start my thoughts.
1. a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
2. an entity, whether an individual or a group, that is seen as forcefully adverse or threatening.
I think a lot of times the word enemy brings to mind a bully. Someone who makes our life miserable. Someone who has made it their goal in life to be cruel, or mean.
But what if that's not the case?
What if our enemies are our own friends? Or people we love and care for? Maybe even ourselves?
I found it really hard to come up with a true enemy in my life. However, it was pretty easy to find friends or family members that I have felt threatened by. We compete for affection and admiration.
I'm going to be perfectly authentic with you here. When I heard the line in the verse, "do good to those who hate you," I immediately changed it to, "do good to those you hate."
Hate sounds like such a strong word. Let's fix that... how about "do good to those who you have an extreme emotional dislike for."
This obviously can fluctuate day to day as our emotions change. There are days I have extreme emotional dislike for my husband. My kids. My friends. Myself.
How do you combat those feelings? Pray. Do good to them.
When you force yourself to ask God for their best, the bad feelings can vanish because you are focusing on their needs and not your own. When you step outside yourself and do something nice even when it's the last thing you feel like doing, God rewards you for it.
I cannot tell you all the different times that with God's help I have defeated my evil side, and God has turned things around for good. Whenever you focus on others, it changes things inside you.
A couple weeks ago, I made these popsicle stick puzzles with the elementary age kids at my church. I shared with them an example of an enemy to draw, but ultimately left it up to them how they wanted to illustrate God's love to their enemies.
Before class started, I counted out 10 popsicle sticks for each puzzle. I put a piece of tape on the back to hold them in place. I knew it would be too difficult for the kids to draw on them without this. Once their picture was complete, they were allowed to take the tape off.
They took turns putting together their own puzzle, and the puzzles made by the other kids at their table.
Next time you think about loving your enemy, remember you might be the one doing the hating. You cannot hope to change others. But you can change yourself!