The Christian and His Enemies

Friday: Increasingly Like Christ

Romans 12:14-16 In this week’s studies we see that the Bible speaks of suffering and persecution as an expected part of the Christian life.
Increasingly Like Christ

We should bless our enemies by showing them empathy and getting along well with them. We should behave in humility, with a willingness to associate with those we think are lower than we are. The trouble with exhortations of this nature, practical as they may be, is that they seem very far beyond us and therefore discourage us if we start to take them seriously. They are not discouraging if we do not think deeply, for then we just assume that we are like this. But if we examine ourselves, we will have to admit that we do not pray for God’s blessing on our enemies very often, empathize with others, act agreeably or associate with those the world scorns and be humble. And that’s discouraging. 

Perhaps what we need to do here is simply get our minds off of ourselves entirely and begin to think of Christ. Because if we think of Him, we will become increasingly like Him, even if we are not especially conscious of it. 

Donald Grey Barnhouse writes, 

When the nations were raging and the peoples imagining a vain thing, he did not move to destroy them. He did not destroy Adam when he sinned, but promised a Savior and began the long course of history so that man could have opportunity upon opportunity to repent and return to God…. He did not destroy us when we were ungodly sinners. He came from heaven to save us. He came into the camp of his enemies and allowed them to do their will against him in order to establish the foundation for our redemption. When we were without strength, when we were enemies, Christ died for us. Note that he did not save us by demonstrating his mighty power in some miracle. He saved us—He saved us by letting us kill him. How astonishing this is! 

And when he rose from the dead he did not judge those who behaved so wickedly against him. The Jerusalem to which he held out his arms before he died was still the center of his loving thought. He commanded his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, but he commanded them to begin at Jerusalem. Was this not heaping coals of fire upon the heads of his enemies? And did it not melt the hearts of many?1

It did, of course, and it still does. It can through you. 

1Donald Grey Barnhouse, How to Get Along with People, part 72 of the booklet series on Romans (Philadelphia, PA: The Bible Study Hour, 1957), 33. 

Study Questions
  1. When we’re discouraged because we’re unable to love our enemies, what should we do?
  2. What happens when we set our minds on Christ?
  3. How has God behaved toward us, who are His enemies?

Application: How did Jesus treat those who were opposed to Him? How can you try to treat others as He did, especially those who persecute you?

Prayer: Thank the Lord for His mercy and grace in dealing with us. Rejoice in the fact that we who were once His enemies are now His children!  

For Further Study: Download for free and read James Boice’s booklet, “The Cost of Discipleship.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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