Fasting

Do you Know How to Love your Enemies?

love-your-enemies

Do you know how to love your enemies?  Even the concept of HAVING enemies is hard for me… but LOVING them is a whole other level of hard!

But, does it have to be?

We don’t want Enemies

I used to have no enemies. I was very proud of this. I valued relationships above everything and prided myself on my loyalty and generosity. I didn’t dislike anyone and they didn’t dislike me (as far as I knew). Yeah, there were certain people I didn’t go out of my way to talk to and there were certain people I didn’t have much in common with, but that didn’t make them my enemy. When I thought of enemies, I thought I had to live in a country where I could be killed for my beliefs. I counted myself lucky that I would never be in a situation where I would be mortally at odds with anyone, or even ever experience true hatred.

But, “enemies” goes so far beyond feelings of simple like or dislike. Your feelings for a person have nothing to do with whether they are, or will ever become, your enemy. In fact, the most difficult and painful enemies are the people you LOVE.

What makes someone our enemy?

A true enemy is never going to be the coworker I don’t get along with or the lady whose hairdo or perfume annoys me.

No  the only kind of enemy that matters is the one who attempts to come between me and God.

Christ came to sew discord

There is a passage that has always seemed incredibly out of place in the gospels that had always puzzled me up until this point. It seems  so extremely opposite of all the other cozy, loving, “good-shepherd-esque” passages.

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” – Luke 12:49-53

What?!

Will our enemies really be within our families even?

Unfortunately, yes.

The true Enemy of our souls is the Prince of this world (Matthew 4:9). He controls so much more than we could ever imagine -including the hearts of many people around us – even when they are unwitting and unknowing hosts.

This is why we must truly fear the Enemy of our souls (Matthew 10:28), for he comes to us as a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) and knows how to attack us where it hurts most, in the place we are most vulnerable – our heart.

Lord, who is my enemy?

We meet our earthly enemy in the person who doesn’t understand our relationship with God and tries to undermine it, or convince you it is less important than anything else. They are there when, under the guise of caring about you, they push their own agenda on you instead.

The pull of the real enemy is so powerful and so invisible, that most good people have no idea what they are choosing. But, still, they become your enemy. They shun you and scorn you. They still think you are crazy for not jumping on the latest “harmless” bandwagon with them and they scorn you for it.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. – Matthew 12:30

Our enemies try to convince us that you can have two masters (Matthew 6:24) – that anything that isn’t “obviously evil” must be good.

Does anyone you know think their opinion matters more than God’s? Or,  scorn sound, selfless, loving advice?

Unfortunately, they too classify as “enemy”.

Recognizing our enemy

Our enemy comes to us as a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

Evil is not attractive. But, evil disguised as good is like low dosis of poison that kills us slowly over time without us even realizing that we are dying.

The Enemy is patient.  He doesn’t care how long it takes us to die, he just wants us not to notice.

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Thus, in order to combat his underhandedness, we (too) must be cunning as serpents (Matthew 10:16).

ANYTHING that threatens to undermine the priority we place on our relationship with God is our enemy. The moment that anything starts to question or rearrange our priorities, we need to check ourselves.

Why do we have enemies?

Unfortunately, the closer we get to God the more our enemies we seem to have.

Fires start blazing in families and among friends. People you love turn on you and people you trust leave you.

You keep having to make choices, God or them. You have to choose God! 

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You thought that the people whom you loved would choose God too. Or, at least not get mad that you did.

I mean, it’s such an obvious choice.

Or, so you thought…

But, some people aren’t strong enough.

Can you drink of the cup of which I am to drink? – Matthew 20:22

The narrow gate is so much more narrow than we think.

“Many will try to enter but they will not be strong enough”  – Luke 13:24

Our enemies tend to think they know what is best. They “know” where they are going and what they are doing. They think they are strong enough to enter heaven of their own accord, either by their works or by creating their own standard of holiness to live up to.

But, really, the only true standard of holiness is the Cross.

No servant is greater than His master. – John 15:20

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We will surely drink the cup He was to drink (Matthew 20:23)

When we get closer to Christ, we get closer to Calvary. The extremity to which we are called to love Him gets more visible and the impact it causes to our ordinary little lives starts looking catastrophic.

When the people you love start feeling like enemies, it can make you question for a moment if loving Christ is worth it.

Well, was Calvary worth it?

God loves our enemies

Those people who challenge you, who question you, who threaten you, who make fun of you, who hurt you in any way, they too are God’s children.  They too are beloved by Him and He is trying to reach them and bring them back to Himself.

I love the line in the song Reckless Love that says – There’s no wall He won’t kick down, no lie He won’t tear down, comin’ after you.

He is trying to do this for our enemies too.

This is why He commands us to love them, just as He loves them. (Matthew 5:44)

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How do we love our enemies?

Obviously we aren’t going to our own crucifixion in the same way… but we have plenty of opportunities to sacrifice ourselves for them.

Sure, I can spout love and be nice all day long, but does that really cost me anything? How much does it mean if I only ever use words to express my love?

No one has to know of my sacrifice (Matthew 6:3). No one has to do it with me.

Yes, words and outwards acts of kindness are important, but you will only know how much you love when you do something that actually costs you.

Love your Enemies through Fasting

For years I doubted the value of fasting. I thought, how could not eating this cookie (or whatever it may be) matter to anyone else? What does my second helping, or lack thereof, have to do with anyone besides me?

Well, from the outside, nothing. Pointless self-torture, I grant you.

But, then you go to your prayer and cry about how your kids are making bad decisions or how other people just won’t ever change. And you would be right! Those things are devastating and worth praying about… but, your cries alone cannot change anyone else.

All the sadness in the world about the state of the world DOES NOTHING.

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The only time we can affect change is by DOING something.

But, what can we do about other people?  The answer is NOTHING! We can’t make them change.  We can’t make them think differently or act differently.

The only person we can change is ourselves.

At first it feels a little depressing…

But then, there is a little nudge on our hearts….

If there WERE something you could do, would you really do it?

If not eating meat one day a week COULD make a difference, would you do it? If getting up without the snooze button DID matter, would you do it?

The value of Fasting

His disciples asked him in private, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting.” – Mark 9:28-29

Fasting and self-sacrifice are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, in prayer.

We can talk all day about how we need things to be different or how so-and-so needs to change, but fasting and self-sacrifice are the only tangible way we have to demonstrate how serious we are about our prayer. 

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If Christ only talked about how much He loved us and then never died for us, we would never know?

Do you love your enemies?

Yes, you love your enemies.  That’s why it HURTS SO BAD to be ENEMIES!!!!!!!!

But, if you love your enemies, you can’t just pray for them. You can’t just offer lip-service (Isaiah 29:13) – you must act! Your actions show how serious you are about your prayer.

No, technically that glass of wine has nothing to do with the problem you are facing, but going without it could have EVERYTHING to do with Love.

How did He love them?

He died for those who abandoned Him, for those who spat on Him, for those who made fun of Him, for those who betrayed Him. If we think about Calvary, only a very select few people accompanied Him to His death.

The gate is narrow and the path is hard and we end up with VERY few friends who will accompany us to our death, but we choose to die to ourselves anyway.

There is Hope in Love

For when we die the death of love, we rise!

For if we have grown into union with Him through a death like His, we shall also be united with Him in the Resurrection. – Romans 6:5

After our death, our life has purpose. Only after we die will we see the impact of our life.

The point of life isn’t a competition to BE loved, it’s just an opportunity to love.

#ParticularlyCALLED #Togetherinthetrenches #IamCALLED

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