Words of Hope: Handling Enemies
I read a wild verse that I hadn’t noticed before. It says, “Do not rejoice and gloat when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad [in self-righteousness] when he stumbles, Or the LORD will see your gloating and be displeased, And turn His anger away from your enemy.”
How different that is from any kind of Hollywood movie. When my husband Shann and I were living in Germany while he played professional basketball, we would go to the movies on the army base. We could see a movie for $1.50 and get large pops, hot dogs, a huge popcorn, and jumbo box of licorice, all for just $5. This was a cheap and incredible date night!
The movies on the base were so much different than back home. Any kind of movie would involve the spectators talking loudly and sometimes cheering and yelling, especially revenge payback movies. We saw “Misery” with Kathy Bates who won an Oscar for her performance. When she was getting her comeuppance for her cruelty that had escalated into ridiculous measures during the movie, the people watching rose to their feet, screaming with joy and delight.
This is human nature, to rejoice when someone who is an enemy gets their full desserts. It feels satisfying. But scripture tells us to be careful. God is displeased when we rejoice over the failings of our enemies. Jesus adds to this Old Testament reminder, not only to avoid gloating or celebrating when an enemy falls but to actually love our enemies.
I don’t have many “enemies” but there are people I secretly would love to see fail. Like the people in the movie, I would like to see them suffer for something I perceive as cruel or wrong.
God wants our thoughts to be on our own lives, our own sins, and our own story of repentance. When we assume the role of judge, even in what seems like a noble cause, God is displeased. He is the one who has the authority to yield vengeance. Our job is to pray for mercy, to forgive so that we can be forgiven. What a humbling posture to consider—our own forgiveness connected to how we forgive.
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. – Luke 11:4