Life Hack #29: Pay it Forward, Not Backward

Life Hack #29:

Like it or not, we all have at least one enemy in this lifetime. It is an honest part of human nature to want to see some harm come to your enemy. The very word "enemy" suggests someone who is your opponent, operating with some type of antagonistic behavior that makes the two of you adversaries. To want good for your enemy is counter intuitive. They are out to harm you - so why should you be out to bless them? Yet, we are not to revel in their fall, nor celebrate their collapse. We are to leave their "outcome" to God - something harder said than done!

Don’t laugh when your enemy falls; don’t crow over his collapse. God might see, and become very provoked, and then take pity on his plight. (Proverbs 24:17-18)

Enemies can be personal adversaries - such as someone bent on making your life miserable - all attacks aimed at you alone. They can also be generally around us - such as public officials who don't represent the needs, wants, or beliefs of the public they are designed to serve. The clear instructions are that we need to be very, very careful in our dealings with our enemies. This isn't just because we could get hurt by their attacks, but because God's business is to take care of their wrong-doing - ours is to pray for them, bless them, and serve them as much as physically, emotionally, and spiritually possible.

There are several examples in scripture worth mentioning as it pertains to dealing with the enemy. A woman caught red handed in adultery had many accusers. Those who did the accusing sought to end her life - by the once practiced punishment of stoning. She is at their mercy - and they have no intention of extending any! This is often the case when our own actions may have not been the best - our enemies capitalize on our failures and make them a point to take advantage of us whenever possible. Jesus did something we could learn from. Instead of pointing out that the woman needed mercy, he allowed her enemies to come to the conclusion they were not without faults in their own lives. In so doing, through his simple statement of "Let the one without sin among you cast the first stone", he silenced her enemies. God has the "insight" into what is at the core of our enemy's behavior, and he knows how to silence him! Best to leave it in his hands!

A woman believing she'd never have a child of her own sought to ensure some offspring to ensure the continuation of the family line, allowing a slave woman to bring forth a son for her husband. Her name? Sarah. Her husband? Abraham. The outcome of this rash decision was a son born to Hagar, a servant woman. In time, Sarah did bear a child - in God's timing. In rather short order, the child grew and became the heir apparent to the inheritance of his father. Animosity grew between Hagar and Sarah. Sarah regretted her decision to encourage Abraham to father a child with the servant; Hagar resented all the attention and favor shown to the child born out of Sarah and Abraham's union. 

This is one of those cases where our own actions actually create the enemy we deal with. We all have done something similar through choices we have made which we later regret. God's actions on our part are no different - he has a way of extending grace where it is most needed, but the consequences of our having gone our own way might still be there to "haunt" us for quite some time. Rash, poorly planned decisions cost us, but God is in the business of restoring even what becomes our greatest nightmare. God may not have desired the results we reaped through our decisions, but he certainly has a way of restoring what we cannot "undo" on our own!

The point God makes is that we are not to "deal with" our enemies - HE is. We are not to relish their downfall - but remember them in prayer. We are not to return negative with negative - but to bless them. The only way we will ever do this is when we hold tightly to God's hands and allow him to walk us through it. He may not deal with our enemies as we "think" he should but trust me - God always deals with them in a way which is right, just, and in just the right timing. We have to stand on that and trust he knows best - even when we think they are getting off "too light". We will need mercy more times than we can count. When we behave poorly, do we want God being quick to extend mercy, or to bring swift judgment? Just askin!


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