READ: Psalm 59, Ezekiel 10-12, Mark 3, Romans 10
THE JOY OF ENEMIES
When David was being pursued by Saul, surrounded in his own home by those who would kill him, he had a very intriguing response. David asked God that his enemies be scattered, not slain “lest my people forget” (Psalm 59:11). We need enemies!
God does not intend for us to lead a resistance-free life. We long to be free from oppression but God’s intended means of making us strong is by scattering our enemies with His power (that they might one day be allowed to return), as opposed to slaying them and removing them forever. The removal of all oppression would be a worse fate than the difficulties of repeatedly having to overcome aggressors and accusers. Those who resist us and attack us keep us dependent on God and therefore make us stronger. Oh, the blessedness of having enemies! Enemies are the exercise weights of the soul, the resistance by which our spiritual muscles are built. How thankful we should be toward those who don’t like us (even within the household of faith). How grateful we should be to those who attempt to assassinate our character or bodies. They are in fact friends to our soul.
Sir Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813) was a Scottish jurist and historian. He wrote in 1801: “The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back to bondage.” What is true for nations is true for individuals. We do not stay on the mountaintop of faith, courage, and liberty. The irony of God’s blessings is that in our ongoing fallen state (even post-conversion), they tend to make us inward and complacent. God’s blessings (due to our waywardness) occasionally lead us away from His person. In His mercy God circles enemies around against us to help us return to Him, rely on Him, rejoice in Him. Enemies will not always be needed. When we are completely transformed (heaven), death and curses will not be needed, but as long as we live on this earth enemies serve us well. Enemies send us running back to Jesus.
Let us learn to be deeply thankful for those that oppose us, especially within the faith. When friends seem like enemies, that is when we most need them. When a spouse disagrees with us, let us receive that opposition as a kindness, as the faithful wounds of a friend. When colleagues challenge or question us, let us consider their response as a mercy, not a threat. The resistance of our peers usually plays two roles: First, it challenges the enemy within us. We are all self-deceived to some degree; the enemy has infiltrated us. We need godly men and women to bravely and kindly enough stand up to us. Second, even when good friends misunderstand us, their objections are a kindness, for the wounds turn us again to Jesus.