Dealing With Enemies
May 6, 2019
When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, documented in Matthew Chapters 5-7, He made a compelling statement about the quality of love God demands from people. Jesus first exposed the flawed traditional teaching of the Jewish religious leaders. They were teaching the people that it was common, permissible, and proper to love your neighbors but to hate your enemies. Jesus swiftly corrected that flawed teaching. Jesus taught that Biblical love is no according to human tradition or tendency. He said that true children of God are called to love their enemies, then described what that “love” looks like. He instructed His followers to bless those who curse us – just like He did. He instructed His followers to do good for those who hate us – just like He did. Jesus taught that His followers should pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us – just like He did. Jesus provided good and practical reason as to why His followers should treat enemies in such a manner. If God is love, and God is also glorious, holy, and great, His nature as “love” should be exceptionally glorious, holy, and great. Jesus proved He was God in flesh by loving in an exceptionally glorious, holy, and great way. He said that, if we only love those who love us and treat us well, how are we any different than the heathen, pagan idol worshiper, or condemned person? If our brand of love as Christians looks like the same brand of love as the world, what is evidence of God’s influence in our life?
Though Jesus’ brand of love seems exceptionally difficult, God has been equipping and empowering His people to “love” this way for a long time! The testimony of Job explains that God revealed Himself to Job. That revelation caused Job to fear God. That fear provoked Job to treat people certain ways that were consistent with God’s supreme standards of righteousness and goodness. Job’s conduct was the bi-product of God’s revelation and the fear and humility God’s revelation caused in Job’s heart. That fear and humility provoked Job to “love” in the way that Jesus explained much later. The testimony of Job 31:29-34 shows that Job loved his enemies. Seeking to prove that he was blameless of the hypocrisy that his friends accused him of, Job explained that his relationship with the Lord, and his understanding of God’s judgments, caused him to treat his enemies and strangers as though they were his brothers. Job’s brand of love looked like the love that Jesus spoke of.
Job explained that he never rejoiced over the destruction of those who hated him. Job wasn’t excited by the downfall of others. Job was joyous over the consequences that others suffered, even if those people hated him. Job didn’t repay evil for evil. Job left vengeance to the Lord, but when the Lord exacted that vengeance, didn’t celebrate. Job agreed with God’s righteous judgments, but did not applaud the dismantling of his enemies. Job wasn’t a hater that thrived off of the misfortune or missteps of others. The world today is often entertained by the destruction and calamity of others. People often like to see the destruction of others, figuring that it makes their circumstances seem better. Job wasn’t like that. The prophet Ezekiel wrote of God that He does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, though He must judge. Job was the same way in response to the revelation of God’s righteousness.
Job also explained that he didn’t seek to take advantage of the downfall of others. He didn’t seek to profit from the destruction of his enemies. Often times people will seek to pillage the spoils of the enemy to gratify selfish ambitions or pleasures. The Lord even commanded the children of Israel to pillage the Egyptians before leaving Egypt. It was those spoils that enabled them to build the tabernacle and its articles. Job however didn’t want to take advantage of people that way – not even his enemies. Job was prosperous and rich, but none of those riches came at the expense of someone else. Recall that Job’s suffering and tragedy began with foreign enemies attacking his children and his servants. Job didn’t respond against them. Job didn’t pray to God to destroy them. If those mercenaries of Satan had been destroyed, Job wasn’t going to seek them out to take back his goods. Job never lifted up his own head, fed his own mouth, or increased by the downfall of someone else because he recognized that his enemies were formed by the same hands that formed him.
Most importantly, Job never allowed his heart to despise someone so much that he desired their ruin in hell. It is common these days for people to insult their enemies by saying, “Go to hell!” According to the Bible, this sentiment is sin. A heart that is compelled to speak these sorts of words is a murderous heart. A murderous heart is a heart that parallels the devil himself, and ironically, hell has been fashioned for him and those who live according to his likeness. To wish someone to hell is to confirm one’s own reservation in it! Job didn’t allow his heart to build up that kind of spite, anger, or hate towards someone that he despised their soul. Job didn’t want God to send people to hell, no matter how terribly they treated him. Job didn’t want people to be condemned in their souls. Job didn’t want people to be cursed by God. Understanding the revelation of God’s righteousness, and fearing His judgments, Job didn’t wish God’s wrath and punishment on anyone. Job understood the magnitude of God’s glory and power, and the severity of His judgments. Job didn’t hate anyone so much that he desired they suffer the anger of the Lord God Almighty, no matter how poorly they treated him.
Job in fact, was hospitable to his enemies and also to strangers. He was confident that his testimony in this matter was sound. He pleaded with his friends to confirm this truth with his servants. Job’s servants could vouch for the fact that Job never let an enemy or a stranger go hungry or without shelter. Job always opened his home, his tent, and his resources to those in need, even if it was opened to those who hated him and despised him. Jesus was despised and rejected, yet He died while we were yet sinners in order to break down the middle wall of separation that sin caused, enabling believers to have free access into the glory of God through forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice enabled sinners to dwell in the tabernacle of the Father. Jesus invited the poor, widowed, fatherless, and corrupt to seek the water of life that He freely offered in order to have fellowship with Him in His kingdom. Jesus opened up the doors of His own dwelling place in the manner of a shepherd to those who were against Him and enemies of Him. While Job’s hospitality wasn’t sufficient to produce salvation, the love that he showed to his enemies was parallel to that of Jesus Himself!
This doesn’t mean all mean that Job was perfect. It was true that Job made a covenant with his eyes and was able to abstain from sexual immorality – a feat that many people struggle with on a daily basis. It was true that Job didn’t idolize money and prosperity, and used the increase God gave for purposes that glorified God – another feat that many people struggle with daily. It was true that Job didn’t abuse his influence, prosperity, or wisdom for selfish gain or to take advantage against others, even if it was his own enemies. Job’s humility was such that he leveraged all that God gave him in ways that glorified God, and that Job’s treatment of others was without favoritism. Job didn’t treat his friends one way and his enemies another. Again, this is a feat that many people struggle with all of the time. Still, Job confessed he had issues. He made mistakes. He didn’t get it right 100% of the time. The bulk of Job’s life was defined by faithful and righteous living. His habits were Godly ones so that his mistakes were the exception, not the norm.
The testimony of Job 31:29-34 explains that when Job made mistakes, he didn’t try to cover his issues like Adam. He didn’t try to hide from God. He didn’t try to run from God. He didn’t try to cover his shame on his own by the weak works of his own hands. Job sought the Lord and His mercy in humility, confessing his sin and sought fellowship with God. Job confessed that he didn’t seek to please people more than God so as to be governed by people in his relationship with God. His treatment of enemies and strangers was not directed by the expectations or traditions of peers. He didn’t fear the rejection of people so as to be discouraged from treating people according to God’s standards. Whether people accepted him or not, Job treated others as God said he should. Job wasn’t afraid of offending others by living according to God’s righteousness. Job didn’t desire the approval or acceptance of others so that it compromised his willingness to live by God’s standards. Job was not a perfect man. He was a blameless and upright man – one that received the revelation of God’s righteousness and responded to it with faith and humility so that his life looked like one that followed Jesus Christ, even before Jesus came!