My friend, there will be enemies. No matter how nice and positive and friendly you are, there will be people who do not like you for whatever reason. And each enemy can be used in your life to prepare you for marriage, believe it or not! Here we go…
There are different kinds of enemies.
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in this life. Winston Churchill.
Christ’s single, there will be enemies who don’t like your appearance or ethnicity; they are the stubbornly ignorant. There will be enemies who envy your accomplishments, education, possessions, or relationships; they are the inconsolably jealous. There will be enemies who despise your opinions, your experiences, and/or your faith; they are more dangerous.
You will have enemies who misunderstand something they thought you said or did. You will have enemies from others lying or saying negative or evil things against you. You will also develop enemies from sinning or being immature; pride, a critical or negative spirit, and emotional reactions are common culprits. And enemies are not limited to people outside the body of Christ. Sadly, often they come from within the church (Matthew 7:15, 10:16 & 36; John 16:1-4; Acts 20:29).
God allows all kinds of enemies to be in the lives of believers.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. Sun Tzu
Jesus did say that He would cause enemies to be at peace with those who please the Lord by their lifestyles (Proverbs 16:7). Unfortunately, He also said that in this world you will have tribulation (John 16:33), and that all who live godly in Christ Jesus would suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). He does not stop enemies from intruding into your life. He allows and uses any and all persons in your life, including enemies, for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
To have the right friends, you need to have the right enemies.
The Lord said that if you are a friend of the world, you cannot be His friend (James 4:4). Instead of trying to placate and become friends with everyone, regardless of the cost to your soul and spirit, it’s better to concentrate on pleasing the Lord. Have boundaries. Be observant. Pick your friends carefully (Prov. 12:26 & 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:33). He will deal with both your friends and your enemies. I’ve seen it happen.
The Lord will use your enemies to teach you more character, consistency, and conviction than you ever thought you had to learn.
The wise person finds enemies more useful than the fool does friends. Baltasar Gracián.
There may or may not be a grain of truth in what your enemies say about you or to you. It is your job to listen humbly, without being defensive (I know it’s easier said than done; unfortunately, I’ve been there many times). Then you must discern what is true, accept the criticism, allow the Lord to work in that part of you, and thank your enemies for pointing out your error. Use them as motivation to develop godly character and the fruit of the Spirit. The rest can be ignored as you continue through life.
This attitude will earn the respect of honest, sincere critics and infuriate the rest. It’s a good sign, as it means you’re maturing in ways they cannot attain.
You can improve your conflict resolution skills with enemies.
The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend. Abraham Lincoln
If you’re smart, you will learn better ways to observe, listen, communicate, negotiate, and peacefully resolve conflict with your enemy. They may not want to resolve the situation, but your attempts to do so in a Christlike manner will often shame and disarm them. It may even cause them to look bad and help them decide they need to stop harassing you.
Never lose hope that one day the animosity might desist and be changed to cordiality. I never did. If they don’t, remember: you’ve done your best to live at peace with them, and God sees that (Rom. 12:18 & 14:19).
You can broaden the range of your coping skills with enemies.
Enemies are so stimulating. Katharine Hepburn
If they are the type of enemy who won’t relent and you cannot get away from them, you will learn to hunker down and use more and stronger coping skills to get through what you’re going through. Enemies will heighten your sense of spiritual warfare and keep you in prayer, fellowship, and in the Word. They will also teach you to hold possessions and relationships lightly so that they don’t become idols, and you won’t lean on them for that which only God can provide.
One can never have too many healthy coping skills. Positive coping skills are like a garage full of every possible tool needed to make any and all home repairs and add-ons, or a brand new kitchen, completely stocked with every new appliance, gadget, and tool ready for any kind of food preparation.
Improving your conflict resolution skills, communication skills, and coping skills will make you a much better spouse if and when you finally get married.
It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance. Dalai Lama
Even the perfect marriage is not what it seems. Every intimate relationship will have ups, downs, misunderstandings, and conflicts.
The better you are at resolving conflicts in a Christlike manner, the more stable your marriage will be. The more you improve your communication skills, the smoother your marriage will be. And when you use healthy coping skills, your mate won’t have to bear the brunt of your pain, immaturity, the burden of making you happy, or destructive addictions.
Don’t you want to be as ready as you can be for your future marriage? Then start practicing skill improvements now!
Learn to forgive your enemies.
Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much. Oscar Wilde
Forgiveness is usually the hardest directive to implement, but it’s essential to the vitality of our Christian walk. If Jesus could ask the Father to forgive His mockers and enemies from the cross while He was still bloody, gasping for every breath with needle splinters rubbing into His raw, naked backside, we can forgive our enemies from our comfortable chairs.
Sometimes forgiveness seems impossible because forgive is confused with reconcile, but they are not interchangeable terms.
Forgiveness may be granted at any time without your feeling like it. Reconciliation is a trust that must be earned by humble consistency over time.
Sometimes reconciliation never happens, but if you forgive from the heart that is enough. Ask the Lord for the wisdom, courage, and strength to forgive and He will help you. You might have to forgive them for years before it becomes internalized, but He will bless you for it.
Pray for God’s mercy, peace, and reconciliation with your enemies.
We pray for our enemies; we seek to persuade those who hate us without cause to live conformably to the goodly precepts of Christ, that they may become partakers with us of the joyful hope of blessings from God, the Lord of all. Justin Martyr
I’ve seen several who made themselves my enemies or my friends’ enemies get saved over the years and have a complete change in attitude. Never stop praying.
God is keeping track of every single thing your enemies say and do, and He will punish sin accordingly.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:14-21 NKJV
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:43-48 MSG
The best, most balanced Christian book I have ever read on forgiveness is From Forgiven to Forgiving by Dr. Jay E. Adams. This short but powerful volume helped me release both my parents, who were alive at that time, from childhood incidents that they couldn’t recall.