Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
How do you love the unlovely people in your life? In Romans 12, Paul gave us very practical ways to do that.
One practical way to love the unlovely is to identify with your enemy. Paul said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation” (12:15-16). When you have unlovely and unlovable people in your life, first of all, try to empathize with them. Try to identify with them. Try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment to understand why they may have mistreated you.
Here are three good questions to ask about your enemy. Question number one: Is he a Christian? You might ask, “Why does that matter?” It matters because if he is not a Christian, then he is a slave to sin. He does not have any choice but to act the way he does toward you. In fact, all of us would still be slaves to sin had it not been for what Jesus did for us. If your enemy is not a Christian, then that has a great deal to do with the way he acts toward you. Jesus understood this principle. He understood that the people who nailed Him to the cross were not believers, and that is why He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). A Christian has a whole different perspective than a non-Christian.
Question number two: Has your enemy experienced some hurt in his life that might explain why he did what he did to you? I grew up in a home with two loving and supportive Christian parents. But not everybody has the privilege of growing up in that kind of home, and it marks them. There is a saying in counseling we use all the time: “Hurt people hurt people.” And great offenses reveal great needs. Has your enemy experienced something in his life that might be the catalyst for what he has done to you?
Question number three: Does your enemy have a legitimate complaint against you? Our first response is, “No, not at all.” Proverbs 21:2 reminds us that our ability for self-justification is endless. Solomon said, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” Try to see things from your enemy’s perspective. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We need to try to understand where our enemy is coming from. We need to understand our enemy’s perspective if we are going to bless him instead of cursing him.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living With Your Enemy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.