Know Your Enemy
by Todd Shupe
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).
Coaches of all sports will study game film of their upcoming opponent. Their goal is to understand their opponent and the better you understand them, the better you make the necessary adjustments and preparation to defeat your opponent. It’s much the same in the game of life. We often mistakenly label our neighbor as our enemy when they are not our enemy at all. You may wonder how can that be – my neighbor deliberately does things to upset myself and my family.
First, you must understand that your neighbor is your brother or sister and is just as loved in God’s eye as yourself. Your neighbor is a sinner, as are you, but you both are saved by the blood of the Lamb. You must first remove the splinter from your eye before you criticize your neighbor for the plank in their eye (Matthew 7:5).
Now, this does not mean that you should not protect yourself or your family from danger. I am speaking of your heart, not your physical safety.
We all have experienced frustration. Sometimes we are frustrated with ourselves and sometimes with others, including God. Our frustrations present an opportunity to either deepen our relationships with others or divide us. Regardless of the nature of our frustration, our response will determine if good fruit comes from the situation.
Back to our coaches example: In this case, their opponent is easily identifiable — it is the other team. However, our opponent is so often unseen. We may think it is our neighbor or the guy that cut us off in traffic. However, our brothers and sisters are not our enemy.
St. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The enemy walks among us and uses lies and treachery to create division among God’s people and to tear down the body of Christ. I think this is why God asks us to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute us. Because He knows that these people need the love of Christ to overcome their wicked ways. Every knee will bow in response to the love of Christ. It is so easy to act out of the flesh and return rudeness with rudeness. Next time, I pray that you return rudeness with a kind word and smile and then when alone, pray that God will touch his/her heart. If God can turn Saul into Paul, He can certainly help you with your problems with your neighbor. Seek Him first in prayer and carefully examine yourself. Then, go out and be the light of Christ. The light always conquers the darkness. Know your enemy and pray for your enemy. Be blessed!
About the Author:
Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science. Shupe worked as a professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.