READ: Psalm 44, Jeremiah 25-27, Matthew 16, Acts 23
If you speak God’s Word, you will have enemies. Jeremiah was told to “stand… speak…do not diminish a word” (Jer. 26:2). As a result of his fidelity to God’s person and message, he was threatened with death: “When Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded…priest, prophets, and all the people seized him saying, ‘You shall surely die’” (v. 8). To be like Jesus is to have enemies (Matt. 16:21), and to follow Paul as he followed Christ is to have men bind themselves to kill us (Acts 23:21). There is a connection to steady proclamation and resistance. The psalmist said: “You, through your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me” (Psalm 119:98). Because of the Word of God we will ever have enemies, because of the Word of God we will ever triumph over them. We win our enemies by out-loving them, outlasting them, and out-longing them.
Out-love your enemies. Love is the beautiful and unrivaled core of the gospel, for it is the basic essence of God. It’s not really a fair fight, for no enemy has the unmatched weapon of love. We would be foolish not to wield the one weapon for which our enemies have no defense.
Outlast your enemies. Time is always on the side of the righteous. Many accusations cannot and should not be dignified with a response. In the short term we must be willing to be slandered and misunderstood. Time will prove us righteous. Often the best thing we can do is to “answer not a word,” and plod on faithfully. Critics and envious colleagues have a way of removing themselves. If their heart is wayward, they will not be able to conceal it forever. If your heart is pure, it will eventually be vindicated. By our patience we will possess our souls–and those of others.
Out-long your enemies. Gospel work finds little room for sluggish mornings. Repeatedly through scripture God describes himself and his messengers as those who “rise up early” to warn and admonish (Jer. 25:3, 4; 26:5). Missionary biographies consistently reveal that those who dented the darkness with light rose early to linger long with Jesus. A pastor in Bangladesh, saved out of Islam, challenges the Church to rise before the early Muslim prayer call, that the first utterance directed heavenward in occupied territory is the super exaltation of Jesus. His point is that in the race to evangelize the world, the one who wants it more will win.
Our enemies are ever with us. We might as well win them to Jesus.