Why You Should Keep a List of Enemies

I’ve made a list of my enemies. I’m tracking those who hurt me. I’m tallying those who left wounds. I’m noting those who bother me. I’m “making a list, checking it twice . . . .”

Photo by soukup at Creative Commons

No really, I am. 

I wonder if we have a wrong strategy for dealing with enemies. I’m not talking about national enemies, like countries, or enemies of state, like tyrants. I’m talking about personal enemies. Like the person who wounded you with their cutting words last week. Like the boss at work who tells lies behind your back. Like the girl at school who spreads painful rumors about you. Or even the guy who cut you off on the freeway last night. Who are your enemies?

“But those aren’t enemies,” you say, “They’re just people who annoy me, or hurt me a little. I’d never be so unchristian as to call them enemies.” And therein lies the rub. Because if they’re annoyances, we can just ignore them. If they hurt us ‘a little’, we can just be angry ‘a little.’ If they do something a little hurtful, we can just gossip about them. But if they’re enemies, we have to love them. And that is something altogether different. 

Jesus gives two heart-tests for His followers that are especially potent to me. One is our willingness to give time to ‘unimportant, unpowerful’ people. (See Luke 18:15-17, or Matthew 25:34-40) We know we are beginning to share God’s heart when we willingly give our time and energy to those who will not benefit us in any way. The second test that grabs me is the ‘love your enemies’ test. I’ve memorized that passage, and—honestly—I don’t like it. But here it is:

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

Later, He says:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:32-35)

Did you catch that? One way to know that we are children of the Most High is if we love and share and give and do good to our enemies. Because that’s what Jesus did—and does—for His enemies. For us. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

So why am I keeping track of my enemies? Because I want to be done with merely tolerating those who hurt me. Because I want to be done with petty wars with those I dislike. Because I want to be done with bitterness in my heart. Because, according to Jesus, I either hate stuff or I love it. And I either hate people or I love them. I’ve got to admit who my enemies are so that I can love my enemies. I’ve got to admit who my enemies are so that I can actively strategize about how to do good to them. I’m learning—with baby steps—to go out of my way to serve those who have hurt me. I’m learning—again, baby steps—to bless those who curse me. I have a long way to go, but I’m ‘making a list, checking it twice . . .’ No, I’m not fixated on it—that would be unhealthy. But I’m trying to get honest with myself, so, as Abraham Lincoln said, I can “destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” 

This isn’t natural for my heart. I don’t want to love my enemies. But my heart is no longer natural. Yours isn’t either, if Christ has changed it. It takes a supernatural heart to love enemies. It takes the heart of God to love enemies. I want my heart to become like God’s heart. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will you help me to identify and love my enemies—like you do?

(By the way, if you receive a kind word from me, or a card in the mail, or a gift, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re my enemy . . . I try to do that for friends, too . . .) 🙂




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