WISELY TREATING YOUR FRIENDS AND YOUR ENEMIES.
There was family living close to frontline of a battle. An injured soldier showed up on their doorstep and they showed the man kindness. They dressed his wounds, gave him something to eat, and sent him on his way. Several weeks later the frontline moved closer to that family and the soldiers on the opposing side were raiding the homes nearby and doing despicable things to the people they found inside. When the opposing soldiers came to the family that had helped the injured soldier, that soldier kept his fellow men from raiding their house and left that family untouched because of the kindness they showed him.
How one person treats another whether he is a friend or an enemy can make a difference in how he will treat you in return. So, let us see what can learn from the book of Proverbs on how we should treat our friends and our enemies.
I do not know of anyone that would prefer not to have friends. We all enjoy having friends that we can laugh with, cry with, and share good times with. A true friend will be there for you and will love you at all times (Prov. 17:17).† However, as Christians, we must choose our friends wisely.
Proverbs 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
When we choose a friend that loves God like we do, then we are going to have a friend that will help us on our journey to heaven.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.† 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.† 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?† 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
A Christian friend will help encourage us to remain faithful to God. If they see us moving away from God or doing things that will separate us from God, they will be there to push us back on the right path. When they do, we should not view their help as being mean or hurtful because they are concerned for our soul.
Proverbs 27:5 †Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed.
Many do not like to be wrong or find out they need to make changes in their life, but as Christians we must always be ready to receive rebuke from a friend or others as a positive thing. We all make mistakes from time to time, and sometimes we become blinded to the sin we are involved in.† With this in mind, when our friend or someone else rebukes us for doing wrong, our initial response should be self-examination, and we should be thankful for the rebuke:
Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
We need all the help we can get to keep sin out of our life, which is why it is important to receive hearty counsel from our friend with gladness. The more Christian friends we have, the better.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with having nonChristian friends, we must use great caution with whom we associate because the wrong kind of friend can lead us astray.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." †
Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
This can become a real problem especial for the new convert who has many worldly friends because those friends live their life opposed to God and engage in sinful activities. They will not understand why you no longer want to be involved in those activities.
1 Peter 4:3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.† 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.
Unfortunately for some people, their friendís companionship becomes more important than there companionship with God. Instead of standing up for righteousness, they will go back to their old lifestyle, which means being separated from God once again. Do not think this cannot happen to you because it happened to faithful men like Peter and Barnabas.
Galatians 2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;† 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.† 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
Peter was a bold man for Christ and was the first apostle sent to the Gentiles. He knew that God had accepted the Gentiles and knew they were equal with the Jew in the eyes of God. Even with this knowledge and being an apostle, he was influenced by his fellow Jews to stay away from the Gentiles, and he influenced Barnabas to do the same. So, being lead astray by your friends can happen.
While Paul was being a good friend to Peter by rebuking him and getting him back on the right path, Paul even warns us to be careful when we attempt to lead a fallen Christian back to God because we might be lead astray in the process.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
Let us never underestimate the temptations of sin.
Now let us examine some additional information on how treat our friends.
Proverbs 18:24 †A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
One-sided friendship will only last for a short time.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.† 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
The moment we make ourselves out to be superior is the moment a friendship begins to end.
Proverbs 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.
Revealing secrets is an sure way to end a friendship.
Proverbs 27:10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend
A quick way to show that you do not care about a person is by abandoning them at their time of need.
Proverbs 28:23 He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward Than he who flatters with the tongue.
We do our friends a great injustice by encouraging them to stay on the path they are on, especial if that path is the broad road that leads to eternal destructions.
Now, letís look at how we should treat our enemies. Obviously, our enemies are not our friend, and they would love for something bad to happen to us, but Godís Word teaches us a different approach on how we should treat them.
Some may think they have no enemies, but if you are a faithful servant of God, you will have enemies.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
If we do not have any enemies, then we might need to examine how we are living our lives because Jesus said:
Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
If the world is speaking well of us and boasting about the way we live our life, then we might be living too much like the world. Though Christianity can create many enemies for you, we can still be at peace with our enemy when our lives are a reflection of Godís Word.
Proverbs 16:7 When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
While some enemies are heartless and will take out their vengeance on you anyway, we can stand justified in the sight of God, and those that witness the atrocity will know that we did not deserve what our enemies did to us. Even our enemies will feel ashamed of their behavior.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;† 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.† 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
For many it is tempting to return evil for evil, but we are taught not to take revenge and allow the Lord to take care of it.
Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;† 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
Romans 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.† 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.† 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.† 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."† 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. See (Prov 25:21).
Treating you enemy this way is not an easy thing to do, because when someone is doing something bad to you or a loved one, it makes us angry. Exchanging one evil deed for another will make us be just like our enemy. To put your faith in Godís wisdom and to use good to conquer evil will cause you to be pleasing to God. While it is not pleasant to suffer persecution from an enemy, we can still rejoice in our behavior and how we handle the persecution.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.† 11"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
While most will admit that they love it when their enemy gets hurt or something bad happens to him, Solomon says:
Proverbs 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;† 18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him.
The Lord does not want us to rejoice at the misery of another even if they are our enemy. Jesus is known for many sayings that are hard to follow. Well, what He teaches us about our enemy tops the list.
Matthew 5:43 " You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'† 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,† 45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.† 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?† 47 "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?† 48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.†
It is easy to show love to those who are kind that we associate with, but it is very challenging to love those who hate you. If we are going to follow the example of God who loved us when were His enemies, yet He was willing to allow Jesus to do for us knowing that most of us reject this great gift, He did it anyway. Just as He does not show partiality with whom He is willing to share His love with, neither should we. Just as we want to be treated kindly by others, we should treat others, including our enemies with kindness.
Matthew 7:12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Of course loving our enemy and treating them with kindness does not mean that we are to compromise Godís truth to live at peace with them. As Paul said:
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
When we take a stand for righteousness, sometimes peace cannot be had not even in our own household. As Jesus said:
Matthew 10:34 " Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'
Jesus is not saying that He came for sole purpose of dividing people, but He knew that His message would divide people, and it would cause them to hate one another. However those willing to embrace His message and live by it will be at peach with one another.
Also, when it comes to our enemies, which are the enemy of God, we are taught not to get involved with them or participate in their sinful activities.
Proverbs 4:14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.† 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Solomonís teachings go hand and hand with the teachings of the New Testament. So, let us never fail to go to Godís Word and learn from its wisdom and many examples of how we should treat our friends and our enemies. When we do, our lives we be filled with much peace and happiness because Godís way is always the best way.