Are you facing opposition from people around you? Check out this 6-step guide for responding to your enemies to stay at the top of your spiritual game.
They cheat you and rob you. They lie and spread rumors about you. They betray you, hurt you, and tell you you’ll never succeed. Who are they? Your enemies. A pastor once defined an enemy as anyone who doesn’t want you to succeed. We all have them. Some are right up in your face, while others are more subtle, chipping away at you slowly. Either way, they can stir up all kinds of powerful emotions—hurt, anger, frustration and defeat.
It could be a co-worker, an acquaintance, a family member or even someone on the street. They could be people who disagree with you politically, people who persecute you for your faith, or people who seem to make a hobby of criticizing you. Whatever the case may be, enemies are hurdles in our spiritual lives—hurdles that can keep us from arriving at our destination. However, it isn’t the enemies themselves who can halt our progress or hinder us from receiving healing and financial increase—it is our response to our enemies that determines the outcome.
When thoughts and emotions try to lead the way, we have a trusted source to help show us the way out of hurt and frustration and into the most freeing peace and victory—God’s Word. If you’re facing a single enemy or an army of them, here is your six-step guide to responding to your enemies that will ensure you take the victory.
1. Refuse to Retaliate
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” –Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)
You’ve been insulted, lied to or lied about. Someone has had the audacity to threaten you or harshly criticize you—maybe they’ve even betrayed you. And you feel it to your core. You’re hurt and angry, and you have a lot to say. You even think, I’m going to give that person a piece of my mind. STOP. This is the moment where you choose one road or the other.
The devil is almost yelling in your ear, “You’ve been done wrong! They deserve to hear about it! Don’t let them get away with it!” You start to agree. Then, you remember the words of Ephesians 4:26-31, “In your anger do not sin…. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger” (NIV). Like a fire extinguisher, the Word of God puts out the urge to be offended and respond, if you let it.
You can choose to refuse to retaliate when you’ve been done wrong. Will it be one of the greatest challenges of your life? Yes. Will it take everything you’ve got to keep quiet? Probably. If you are a strong lover of justice, it will be a test of your self-control and an all-out spiritual workout. But you can do it! And you don’t have to do it alone—God has already offered to give you a way out of any temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), and His desire is always for you to succeed.
It’s at times like these when you need to remember who your real enemy is—Satan—and how he uses other people (even Christians) to bait us and rob us of the blessings that rightfully belong to us. When you remember who is really stirring up trouble, it will be easier to stop fighting against flesh and blood and go after the real enemy.
2. Love Your Enemies
“I say to you, love your enemies…. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” –Matthew 5:44, 46 (NKJV)
Did Jesus really tell us to love our enemies? He did! But love isn’t a feeling—it’s a decision. People get too wrapped up in their feelings sometimes, but nothing in the spiritual realm is ever led by human feelings. We make a decision to receive Jesus, we make a decision to be kind to our friends, and we make a decision to love our enemies. The good news is that God doesn’t ever give us a command that doesn’t come with an offer of supernatural assistance. When you have a willing heart, He will help you do the impossible and love even your very worst enemies.
How do you love them? It begins in your heart. You don’t have to run up and hug your enemy every time you see him—just begin by changing your heart. One way to begin renewing your mind in this area is to pray this simple prayer whenever you think of your enemy: “God, You love ____, so I love _____. I forgive him, and I ask You to help me love him with the God kind of love.” As you continue to pray this prayer as a declaration of faith, you will begin to feel something transforming in your heart and moving over into love.
Watch Kenneth Copeland as he teaches you how loving others opens the door to prosperity.
Love is such a powerful force. Not only will it help you overcome past hurts from enemies, but it will prevent them from penetrating you in the future. Remember when Jesus went back to Nazareth, and the religious folks were angry with Him and wanted to push Him off a cliff? What happened? He just walked right past them, and no one could lay a finger on Him. Another time they decided to stone Him, and He didn’t retaliate that time either. He just walked off. No one could touch Him.
When Jesus walked through that crowd, He wasn’t afraid. He knew they couldn’t hurt Him because He was walking in the love of God.
When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, He didn’t mean for you to stand there and have your brains beaten out. He meant for you to stand there in love and in faith, believing that the protecting power of God that accompanies that love would keep you safe. He meant for a man to swing at you and not be able to hit you!
The story of Nicky Cruz, as recorded in David Wilkerson’s book The Cross and the
“But I don’t have that kind of love!”
Yes, you do. Romans 5:5 tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit. All you have to do is make the decision to be motivated by that love rather than by your own human feelings. When you do, you’ll find your enemies will have no power over you ever again.
3. Pray for Your Enemies
“Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” –Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
When you spend a lot of time in intimate prayer on behalf of pressing personal needs, and for friends, family, our nation and the spreading of the gospel, the idea of bringing an enemy into the mix might seem challenging at best. Even so, Jesus has commanded us to do this for our own benefit.
You see, praying for those who have wronged you will enable you to release the hurt, anger and unforgiveness in your heart, and receive His peace. It keeps you from the bondage that comes with holding a grudge and allows the flow of blessings to continue freely in your life. Kenneth Hagin said, “Praying for our enemies has a lot to do with walking in the God kind of love. It also has much to do with whether our prayers are heard and answered.”
A mature believer will pray for his enemies—not talk about them and criticize them. Jesus had plenty of enemies, and His response was always to pray. We have the same love shed abroad in our hearts, and Jesus would never ask us to do anything that is impossible.
From this point on, whenever people mistreat you—pray for them. Pray that they will be blessed in this life, that God will help them where they need it most, that they will receive His love and be a blessing to others. Maybe they have deep hurts in their hearts causing them to behave so badly—pray that God will heal those hurts and set them free.
As you pray for your enemies, you will find your heart begin to soften toward them more and more, and you will keep yourself in a spiritual posture of love. That is a position of victory.
4. Do Good to Your Enemies
“Do good to those who hate you.” –Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
When you think of your enemies, you’re likely not thinking about wanting to bake them their favorite cake. But you should. Not necessarily baking them a cake, specifically, but doing good to them. That’s what Jesus was saying in this verse. When you are treated poorly, harassed or facing opposition, you need to respond in a way that sets you apart as a Christian.
It takes a lot of courage, humility and love to do good to those who mistreat you, and it isn’t easy! But when you’re filled with the love of God, you can do it! Any fool can lash out and fight back against enemies, but Jesus has instructed us to do good to them instead. In doing so, you become a powerful witness.
If you know someone who hates you or has wronged you, look for the opportunity to do good to them. If you see a need, meet that need. If they need help, be the first one to offer it. Buy them a gift. Pray for them. This is how believers walking in the God kind of love should act toward our enemies—regardless of what they deserve. It’s what Jesus taught us to do, and His ways always bring blessing.
Watch Gloria Copeland teach you how to bless those who persecute you.
5. Forgive Your Enemies
“If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” –Matthew 6:14 (NIV)
When you suffer a deep wound or continually recall a hurtful situation, forgiveness can seem like too big a challenge to even tackle. But God has commanded that we forgive others or face the unthinkable situation of not receiving His forgiveness for our own sin. The devil has convinced a lot of believers that forgiving someone is somehow letting the offender off the hook or making ourselves the victim once again. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Forgiving someone isn’t a special favor to your enemies. It isn’t justifying what they’ve done, and it doesn’t even indicate a restored relationship. In fact, forgiveness isn’t something that happens between you and another person—it is an actual transaction between you and God. It is a quiet, personal transformation in your heart, and it gives God room to take care of justice on your behalf.
Forgiveness is so important to our spiritual well-being, that Jesus warned us and instructed us about the matter time and again. That’s why Andrew Murray said, “As bread is the first need of the body, so forgiveness for the soul.”
If there is anyone today whom you have anything against—no matter how long ago the offense occurred—forgive! And do it quickly.
6. Let God Avenge You
“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.” –Romans 12:19
If you’re a lover of justice, you likely have trouble accepting the feeling that someone is getting away with doing you wrong. They deserve punishment, after all! However, God never told us that we are the judge and jury. He said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35, NIV). God is a God of justice, and He cares greatly for you. Don’t take Satan’s bait and think you need to demand it for yourself—you’re only moving God out of the way and indicating you don’t trust Him to take care of it.
You may not see it with your own eyes, but you can be assured it will be dealt with. Sometimes, God will deal with the matter out of your sight, and at other times, He will prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies (Psalm 23:5). Either way, trust Him to take care of the matter. Put your focus on obeying His Word regarding your enemies. You will find that
Next time you find yourself face-to-face with your enemies, take this six-step guide to respond. Refuse to retaliate and instead, love them, bless them, forgive them, pray for them, and let God take care of the justice. Then, you will be mature and perfected in the God kind of love and reflect His perfect love to the world around you.
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