Because of course we all know that I’m the expert… *pffft!*
The term “enemy” is very loosely defined and includes anyone who for one reason or another ticks me off. Previously I would have avoided these people at all costs, blocked them from my Facebook feed and thought up witty things to say behind their backs, but then God kept convicting me of how immature that was and so I finally did a drastic overhaul of my thought process when it comes to this particular group of people.
1. Identify your Enemies —> I know that you know who they are, but humor me and make a list. Are there some people who have actually wronged you and others that you are just jealous of? Which ones know that you have a problem with them and which ones might just think that you are a rude and standoffish person? Take time to pray about and consider why you are angry with each person and how that anger affects your life. Make sure you identify which people have no idea of your dislike toward them and which ones you might need to deal with an actual situation and make amends.
2. Forgive your Enemies —> You might think this step is premature, but it is not. Forgiveness is commanded of us by God, we have no choice but to forgive and we have no right to hold anything against someone when we are so guilty ourselves. If Christ can forgive our perpetual acts of sin then we MUST forgive those who have sinned against us. Take as long as you need, but study and understand the sacrifice that Jesus made so that we could be forgiven, acknowledge how helpless we were to redeem ourselves in his eyes and then correct your heart of anger toward each person on your enemy list. This may need to be repeated regularly.
3. Pray for your Enemies —> I used Facebook because that worked for me, but the idea is to create a time that you intentionally pray for each person. Not a general prayer for the whole group, but take actual time and pray for them individually AS IF YOU LIKED THEM. Ask God to bless them, give them wisdom, draw them to himself.. whatever. I created a Facebook list and periodically went through reading their statuses and praying for them. It is very easy to skimp on this step but DON’T. It is essential because your heart has to change toward them and Jesus is the only one who can do that. So suck it up and be humble and pray.
4. Give to your Enemies —> Don’t rush this step, because it has to be genuine. Find a way to reach out to someone on your list. This “gift” could be a friendly greeting, a “like” on their status, an invitation to an event.. be creative. But figure out a way to intentionally extend benevolence to them. You don’t have to invite them to coffee and pour out your heart or buy them a BFF necklace, but you do have to take the forgiveness from your personal mental bubble and share it with them. This will obviously be easier with some and harder with others, but keep at it and focus on giving with generosity and love.
5. Love your Enemies —> Step five is to repeat steps 3-5 until God changes your heart. I discovered today that my “Enemy list” has become one of my favorite things to do. I no longer cringe and scoff at their statuses, but instead I find myself genuinely interested in their lives and excited to pray for them. I haven’t gotten to the point where I would consider any of them really friends yet, but I believe at least with one or two of them that we could get there. The main goal for me was to change my reaction to them from one of anger to one of love, and it was done through prayer and intentionally investing in their lives.
So there you have it! Don’t let hating someone start to define the person that you are. If you find yourself constantly thinking negative thoughts toward someone in particular then get started on the list! Be a kind and generous person to everyone you come in contact with. With God’s healing power in your life you can definitely do it!