Enemy

 

best friends or worst enemyThis is a strong word. I started really wrestling with this word during my reading of the Word this morning. I started trying to figure out who my enemies are. I looked up the definition first on dictionary.com. An enemy is “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.” I probably have enemies that I don’t even know about. I really do try not to make enemies. I try to get along with others as far as it depends on me.  I’ve found myself over the years biting my tongue rather than speaking into the lives of others who I feel are doing something wrong or harmful to others. I’ve tried to amend that part of my life. I must be willing to hurt feelings and lose friendships over speaking the truth and defending the truth.  I don’t want enemies. I don’t seek out enemies.

Enemies can be subtle or overt. They can be public or private. Thinking about enemies has brought a bit of stress to my heart this morning. I can’t control who sees me as an enemy but I can control who I see as an enemy. Check this out…

The Lord says to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1 NIV)

I can disagree without hatred.

I can debate without hatred.

I think what makes an enemy is hatred.

After observing one of the hardest and most hateful presidential elections in the history of our nation, we seem to have a lot of hatred in our country. The sharp divide in ideology is profound. I contend that we don’t have to hate just because we disagree. We must learn to debate and stay on the issues instead of allowing our emotions to dictate our behavior. Hatred is a devastating emotion that leaves destruction in its path. I don’t want enemies, but I probably have some. If a person comes to my door to try to harm my family, they will be perceived as an enemy and I am not afraid to use force to stop them no matter what. So, at that point they will certainly be an enemy.  It still hurts my heart to think of having enemies. I want to do my best to love others with the same love that the Lord has shown me. This life is not the end game – eternity is.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

P.S. If any person reading this sees me as their enemy, PLEASE, let’s have a conversation and remove hatred from the equation.

Revenge & Vengeance

RevengeRevenge means to exact punishment on behalf of someone else or against someone for something they have done in the past. This can be a super negative word and can actually cause great harm to the person carrying the revenge. Related to this word is “avenge” and “vengeance”. These can not only be destructive if I’m trying to exact revenge on another – they can also be self-destructive as I want harm to come to another.

David had become King of Judah. He did not have all of Israel under his leadership quite yet. Abner was the leader of Saul’s army. He became frustrated with Saul’s son Ishboseth and decided to deliver the rest of the people of Israel to David as king. He connects with David and sets up a meeting. It all goes very well. David seems excited about reuniting the kingdom. Abner sets out and starts meeting with leaders in different parts of Israel. Check this out….

19 Abner also spoke to the Benjaminites in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole tribe of Benjamin wanted to do. 20 When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. 21 Then Abner said to David, ‘Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace. (2 Samuel 3:19-21 NIV)

Everything seems to be going well. Joab arrives and learns that David has met with Abner. Joab can’t stand the air Abner breathes because he took the life of Joab’s brother. (If I remember correctly, Abner tried to talk Asahel down, but it ended in a fight that Abner won.) Abner agrees to meet with Joab thinking that all is going well with the talks with David, but Joab fully intended to murder him to avenge his brothers death. Joab calls Abner aside as if he needs to meet with him privately and then stabs him in the stomach and Abner dies. King David had nothing to do with this revenge and he made it clear that he did not approve of the behavior of Joab.

I believe revenge can be self-destructive. I do believe in consequences for behavior. For example, a drunk driver who kills an innocent person should be held accountable and punished severely for their behavior. However, it does more harm to the family of the person killed to seek vengeance upon the accused. It is healthier to work through the law to protect us all going forward from such reckless behavior.

I do believe that there comes a time in the political process when there is disagreement that I should raise my hand if something illegal and unhealthy is happening. I believe that there is room for debate and deep discussion without vengeance and hatred. I get very frustrated with our political process when grown people who seek to be President are drawn into petty name calling and immature behavior.

Revenge can destroy me from the inside and I need to lay it down.

Vengeance is a very close relative to Revenge and needs to be laid down as well.

I will leave any vengeance needed to the Lord. He wants me to trust Him and walk in humble obedience to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Prejudice

 

I live in the Southeast United States and our part of the country has a past in the area of prejudice to people. The word “prejudice” is “a pre-conceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. It is dislike, hostility or unjust behavior coming from unfounded opinions.” Unfortunately prejudice is often handed down from one generation to another. It is heart breaking to see prejudice, bigotry and hatred from any angle. I believe it is common or normal to not like a certain person based on their personality or behavior. I don’t think it’s normal to dislike a person based on the color of their skin or ethnicity.

The Lord gives more regulations to His people in Leviticus. In fact the chapter I read this morning was titled “various laws”. In this chapter He summarized the 10 Commandments and other laws regarding relationships. I came across this one passage that really spoke to me. Check this out….

33 ‘“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV)

When my wife and I adopted our son from Nicaragua almost 5 years ago we obviously did not have issues or prejudice toward Hispanic people. He was welcomed into our home speaking no English except a few words. I remember using my smart phone with a translator app the first few days to communicate. He was welcomed by our family and friends with open arms to this this amazing country called the United States of America.   His native language was Spanish, so he automatically gravitated toward people who spoke his language. One thing we weren’t prepared for in our community was prejudice. We were horrified at some of the stories he told early on about how he was treated by some kids at school. Our antennas were up and we reported what we knew of to the school authorities to have the behavior addressed. The school officials were on top of things and things improved right away. I’m sad to say it still shows up in our community every now and then.

I do wish that we could learn to see others as Jesus sees them.

I do wish that we could learn to love as Jesus loved.

I do wish we could eradicate prejudice from our culture.

I think prejudice can cut both ways. I’ve seen white people prejudice, but I’ve also seen Hispanic people and African-American prejudice toward white people. Prejudice in any form is bad news for relationships. There are many false assumptions made with no evidence to support the assumptions. If after I get to know a person, whether black, brown, white or orange – if they are a jerk then I don’t want to be their friend or hang out with them. I believe the Lord sees our heart and that He is most concerned with what is going on there. What goes on in my heart comes out in my actions or behavior. I’m so grateful that the Lord help eradicate prejudice and bigotry from my heart. I want to genuinely love as He loved.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hate

 

Moving escalator stairs, love hate signThis is a strong word in the English language. I really dislike this word and I don’t like to use it in regard to people. I believe it is opposite of love. There are times that God “hates”, but His hate is directed at behavior and not people. I learned at a very early age that hate and hatred are not good character qualities to keep in my life. Hate is closely related to bitterness and jealousy. These are two unsettled emotions that left to run their course in my heart, they will destroy me from the inside out. These negative emotions are like a cancer in my soul and they are always up to “no good”.

Josephs brothers were very jealous because Dad (Jacob) played favorites. This is an example of what jealousy and hatred can create. They were also jealous because at age 17 he was having weird dreams that implied that they would one-day bow down to him. That just poured “fuel on the fire” of their hatred. Check this out…

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (Genesis 37:3-4 NIV)

The other brothers end up plotting to kill him when he came to check on them. A couple of the brothers floated some other ideas other than murder and they ended up selling him into a life of slavery and then telling their Dad that a wild animal had killed him. This story underscores for me the extreme dangers of hatred and how irrational and illogical it can me.

I want to continue my dislike for this word and all the trappings it has with it. I don’t want my heart to self-destruct from the inside out. I will work through the emotions of jealousy and I will lay down bitterness so that they don’t turn into hate.

Pressing On!

Dwayne