Beloved Enemies

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2014 3 Jul

I used to think I had no enemies. No one who hated me. No one lying in wait to trip me up. No one with my worst interests at heart. But then I decided to redefine the word enemy. What if, instead of interpreting the word to mean someone who was trying to kill, attack, or take me down, someone who aimed bombs or grenades at me, I also applied it to people who are hard to work with or live with? People who sometimes offend me or who at times drive me crazy by the things they do or don’t do? Not wanting to label them as the Enemy, I started thinking of them as the Beloved Enemy, because often such people are close to my heart.

I imagine that many of those who sin against us most frequently fall into this category. They are husbands, friends, children, coworkers, and members of our churches. These are people we can’t get away from even if we want to. And most of the time we don’t want to because we care for them. Still, because we live in close contact with them, the offenses can pile up, affecting our relationship. This is particularly true when negative behaviors remain frustratingly the same. The husband who keeps those sarcastic remarks coming. The child who continues to act disrespectfully. The coworker who always jumps in to take the credit.

Precisely because such people are beloved, we owe it to them to tell them the truth about how their behavior affects us. And precisely because they are our “enemies,” we have to do our best to treat them as Jesus instructs: doing good to them, even if they aren’t doing good to us.

(Image courtesy of theodore99/