Do you have enemies? People who are opposed to you and make attempts to harm you?
Ever since God has had a people, that people have had enemies. Whether its Cain and Abel, David and Saul, the ancient Hebrews and the Philistines, or Nehemiah and Sanballat, the people of God have always faced enemies.
And in our own lives, we too might have enemies who oppose us, our healing and restoration.
Our church may have enemies too. Those who seek to oppose our mission to proclaim the full redemption of Christ to our community.
There are a few reasons God allows enemies to remain apart of our lives even though we pray and wish they’d just move on with their own lives and leave us alone.
With that in mind, how should we respond to our enemies?
Accept the presence of enemies. Vs. 1. Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews.
Sanballat was a Samaritan a people group who lived just north of the ancient Hebrews. The Samaritans were are relatively new people group that formed following the Assyrian conquest and destruction of the ten northern tribes of Israel. Hostility had existed between the ten northern and two southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin ever since the united kingdom of Israel divided into two separate countries. (see 1st Kings12)
Don’t be surprised, shocked, or dismayed by enemies.
Our Lord Jesus was perfect and He had enemies.
Enemies arise out of a misguided belief that their progress depends on your pain and failure.
Enemies convince themselves that you are a threat to their well-being and therefore set themselves to oppose you even though you’ve done nothing to harm them.
Be aware of their schemes. vss. 2-3. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?”
Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!”
Enemies are filled with ungodly anger and rage which manifests itself in the following ways.
Ridicule, lying, slander, threatening, bullying.
These are the tactics used by the ungodly to make us question ourselves, our place before God, God’s move in our lives, and ultimately our healing and restoration.
God’s people never, ever, ever need to use or rely on this kind of ungodliness.
Answer their evil with God’s goodness. Vss. 4-5.
Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives.
Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.
Nehemiah’s response flowed from his understanding of God’s redemptive activity which at that time was centered on the Jewish people.
Our response to present enemies is centered in God’s redemptive activity centered in Jesus Christ and applied to all people groups.
Pray God stops their evil actions. Pray for protection from their evil.
Pray God saves them.
Don’t look for an opportunity to harm them and refuse to retaliate against them.
As much as you can move away from their influence. Romans 12:18 (ESV)
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Forgive them. We refuse to treat them in the same evil way.
We refuse to retaliate.
We accept the potential reality that they won’t ever seek to reconcile with us and restore the relationship.
That is, we don’t look for their apology to proceed with our healing, realizing that we may have to move on from the relationship.
As Tupac once said.. Just because you lost me as a friend doesn't mean you gained me as an enemy. I'm bigger than that. I still wanna see you eat, just not at my table.
Forgiveness in this manner doesn’t close the door to the relationship. Rather it sets a good and proper boundary for it.
Attend to our mission. Vs. 6. So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
Undue focus on enemies can and will prevent us from pursuing our mission.
In fact, one of the enemy’s tactics is to distract us by insisting we constantly debate them in unwinnable arguments.
Attending to our mission follows the example of our Lord. He attended to his mission of redemption which transformed his enemies those who love, serve and delight in Him.
Romans 5:10-11 (ESV)
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.