Is there someone in your life that gets on your nerves or someone who simply doesn't like you? The Bible tells us to love these people regardless of our feelings, our thoughts, or their actions.
In Matthew 15:16, Jesus says that from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The hatred in your heart overflows to express harmful words and actions. However, the opposite is true as well: if you put on positive words and actions, you can experience a change in your hearts for the better.
We see this exemplary behavior in David. Just after David kills Goliath in 1 Samuel, King Saul hears the people declaring David's superiority and he becomes filled with jealousy and hatred. From this point until he dies, he is on a mission to kill David, but David returns this ill will with respect and righteousness.
In this week's message, Pastor Miles challenges us to treat our enemies with respect and goodness. As a result, amazing changes can happen in our thoughts and attitudes!
1) Honor the symbols of God blessings in his or her life. 1 Samuel 24:1-5, Matthew 15:16
In this passage, Saul comes into the cave where David is hiding out with his men, giving David the perfect opportunity to exact his revenge and kill Saul. Prompted by the pressure of his men to do evil to Saul, David cuts the corner of Saul's robe, which is a symbol of God's favor in Saul's life. However, immediately afterward, David's heart is troubled and he runs out to make amends.
Realize that although God may not approve of everything your enemy does, He loves that person and has a plan for his or her life. If God has redeemed you, you have experienced brokenness as well, therefore, in humility do not sit in judgment over your enemy. Instead, respect God's hand in his or her life.
2) Establish 'God names' for him or her. 1 Samuel 24:6-12, Matthew 12:33
Throughout God's Word, He has given His people important names associated with their calling or their message:
- Isaiah: Yahweh is Salvation
- Jeremiah: Established by God
- Ezekiel: Strengthened by God
- Daniel: God is My Judge
The devil tries to replace God's names with negative names so that God's purposes will be thwarted. What are the names you use for your enemy? Instead of addressing that person with negative terms, such as "idiot," "stupid," "failure," use God-honoring names and watch your heart change toward that person.
David gives us this example, first by not allowing his men to hurt Saul, and then by using names that show his respect for Saul. In 1 Samuel 24:6-12, he refers to his enemy Saul as "my master," "the Lord's anointed," "my lord," and "the king," followed by a physical display of respect in bowing down to Saul.
3) Establish a humble name for yourself. 1 Samuel 24:13-22, Philippians 2:3-4
When you are angry at someone, you may disgrace him or her with your words or thoughts while praising yourself. Consider instead taking a stance of humility, as you are not completely innocent or perfect. If you confess your own wrongs and make amends for those, you are honoring God. Go as far as you can go to get your own heart right before God and trust Him to do the rest.
In 1 Samuel 24:13-22, David says, "But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? Therefore let the LORD be judge, and judge between you and me."
David refers to himself in lowly terms and refuses to harm Saul, not wanting to be guilty. He chooses to be righteous before God and allows God decide between him and Saul.
Dress for Success
By nature, we are God's enemies - sinners who need the grace of God. Until we voluntarily surrender our lives to Jesus, we are at war with Him, doing what we want to do on our own terms.
But when we trust God and do things His way, we experience what He desires for us. If we clothe ourselves with humility, we become humble. If we clothe ourselves with love, we become loving. How can your behavior change toward your enemies in order to affect a change in your heart?
Take this challenge to "Dress for Success:" identify one enemy in your life and express one loving act toward him or her before next Sunday.