If you refuse to let someone become your enemy, even after they’ve set themselves against you, you are destined to be the favorite victim of bullies and be used as a fellow manipulator to hurt others.
Even Christ had enemies. He responded with truth in love, but he didn’t pander or beg for approval.
Always be ready with forgiveness, should your enemy seek it, but don’t be a doormat. You’re not extra righteous for letting someone hurt you again and again—you’re just afraid to do anything about it.
People like to quote Luke 6:29 and advise Christian friends to “turn the other cheek”, but just 2 verses earlier, Jesus tells us to love our enemies. We can’t love our enemies if we think we aren’t supposed to have any.
Turning the other cheek isn’t so much an act of love, as much as it’s an act of quiet defiance enabled by faith. It’s not going to fix your relationship with the person who just hit you. Letting yourself be a punching bag isn’t an evangelism plan. After turning the other cheek, remove yourself to safety, consider them your enemy, and pray for them.
It’s not a sin to have enemies, but letting them continue to hurt you is often an act of fear, not faith. Sometimes God’s plan for your life will involve suffering, but he doesn’t desire to make your life miserable. He loves you.
Romans 3 says that our suffering produces endurance, character, and then hope. Sometimes character means standing up for yourself, knowing that your hope is in Christ and that you can face your enemies without fear.
When you do that, you may find that an enemy is God’s biggest blessing to you. There’s nothing more motivating than an enemy. You suddenly realize that pleasing everyone isn’t the highest virtue. It’s freeing! You can now make decisions based on what is best for you, or what does the most good for your neighbor.
Not everyone should have their wishes granted by you. In fact, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is tell someone no. What would the world look like if everyone responded to abuse of power with pacifism? It would be an awful place!
I know what both sides of this are like. I’m what you’d call a “people pleaser”. I like to make everyone happy and be everyone’s friend. Unfortunately in life, that’s not always possible. Being everyone’s friend leads you to compromise on things you shouldn’t in order to keep their friendship. It makes you avoid disagreements at all costs, even healthy ones. It backs you into a corner and before you know it, your decision making is wrapped around what makes people happy, rather than what’s right.
And let me clue you in on a little secret, in the end it doesn’t make people happy either. Abusers are often miserable people.
Sooner or later, this cycle has to be broken. If it’s not, you or those you love may get broken. Take courage my friend. For those who are in Christ, the LORD is at your side.
So, don’t make enemies willy-nilly, but having one is far from the end of the world. It may be part of God’s plan for your life, and a blessing in disguise.