How do you deal with people who mistreat you? How do you deal with people who use you for their own selfish purposes? How do you deal with people who plot and scheme against you? How do you deal with people who seem to hate you just because you are you? We all know what the Bible says: Love your enemies, right? Well, what exactly does that even look like? How can you love someone who is clearly hell bent on your destruction? When I think on the teachings of Jesus, I always find myself going back to the Old Testament stories. One that really comes to mind where a man hated God’s people for no real good reason was Haman in the story of Esther.
“But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews”
Esther 3:6 (NASB)
We see in all of chapter 3 of Esther how just because Mordecai, one Jew, refused to bow down to a mere mortal, Haman, that this man plotted, bribed others, and seduced the king with his tongue to destroy a whole nation of people. Could you imagine your whole race being sought out to be destroyed, and being successfully done so by, one man who was offended by your morals and beliefs? Yet, the hate burned within Haman enough to do so. So, what does this story have to do with loving those who hate us, and want to humiliate or destroy us? The answer lies in Psalm 37. Read and study it for a moment. Do you see it?
David gives clear instructions, which are supported by Jesus’ teachings in this Psalm. When our enemies are plotting and scheming what are we to do? Not to worry or panic, but we should pray. What did Mordecai do? He mourned over the decree, which is essentially praying/crying out to God. Jesus tells us to not worry constantly and Paul tells us to pray if we are worried. Jesus also tells us to pray for our enemies. Here’s a list of all of what the Psalm instructs us to do:
1. Bless/pray for them
2. Don’t worry or panic
3. Don’t envy them
4. Trust in God and continue to do good
5. Rest and wait on God
6. Cease from anger
7. Remain humble
Bless/pray: When we bless or pray for our enemies it helps us release anger or wrath we might have against us. If you are busy praying, fasting, interceding, or giving thanks over someone who is your enemy you will quickly let go of any resentment. I also have found that giving my enemies something they need also helps to get rid of any unnecessary bitterness that might be dwelling within. Giving promotes God’s joy and gladness in my opinion. Pray for God’s justice to be done as well if you are being wronged. (Read 1 Timothy 2:1-9; Proverbs 25: 21-22; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Don’t worry or panic: This was addressed above.
Don’t envy them: For where there is envy and selfish ambition there is all kinds of evil(James 3:16). To stay out of evil it’s best that we cease from desiring what they have gained out of their wicked deeds. Don’t succumb to evil just because you see others prosper in it.
Trust and do good: When we continue to do good wherever God has placed us, despite the amount of stuff that we may or may not go through, it shows that we have trust in God. So, don’t grow weary in well doing, because in due season you shall reap a good harvest from the Lord(Galatians 6:9).
Rest and wait: While waiting on the Lord we are called to remain still and faithful in what God told us to work on or do while waiting. I often find myself having issues with this step, not because I’m impatient, but because I’m so used to being busy with something or wanting to move to the next step. Even a small wait can seem to be a little longer than normal if you’re focused on yourself. Stand still, remain prayerful, cling to God’s promises, and fix your eyes on what He will and can do in your life.
Cease anger: To do this see steps 1 and 3.
Remain humble: This can be a very hard step, especially if you feel like you’re doing everything right and others aren’t responding the way you want them to. However, we must remember to try our best not to exalt ourselves above even our enemies and not to focus on their destruction so much, but focus instead on God’s justice and sovereignty.
So, that’s it, you say. We just pray and trust God and do good, while these crazy people do all this scheming and plotting?! That’s foolishness! Is what most non believers would say, but as a believer we are called to trust in God enough that even when we know Satan is busy; we ask God to hide us and cling to what His word says about Him protecting us from the evil one. Yes, the words can hurt, yes the treatment can drive you up the wall, and yes sometimes people just make you want to smack them with words. We cannot and will never be able to control what people think, say, or do, but God can change people. God is sovereign and will give us justice at the perfect time if we trust in Him. Continue to pray and patiently wait on the Lord. Hide if you can when evil comes and continue in doing good.
Be blessed children of God.
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