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How to Handle an Enemy

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23

Do you have an enemy? If your reply is, "No," then do you realize how much of the Bible is irrelevant to you? After all, when we pray the Lord's Prayer, we say, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Christians certainly know what it is to have enemies. When they accept Jesus as their Savior, they gain a new enemy: the devil. Not only that, but also they often find that the friends they had before become hostile toward them, and their loved ones often become their bitterest foes. Indeed, Paul said, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12).

John knew what it was like to face persecution. He had many enemies, who, after failing in their attempt to boil him in oil, had banished him to Patmos and left him there to die. But John had expected oppression, and he told us not to be surprised if the world hates us, too (1 John 3:13).

One of the wonderful things about becoming a Christian is that, like John, you can see what is behind the persecution you meet, and you do not take it personally but understand that it is God with whom others are angry; it is Christ they hate. John realized this and knew that he needed to be in God's presence, so he did not indulge in self-pity; he was "in the Spirit." It is possible to be so filled with the Spirit that you do not regard others as enemies, but you have a love for them.

When we have the Holy Spirit, we grow the fruit of that Spirit, the fruit of love. When we become Christians, God shares Himself with us and we begin to radiate His beauty. This is not because we are better than others: we remain human and are often tempted to do wrong. The difference is that God has promised to be with us, so we can overcome these problems.

Excerpted from A Vision of Jesus (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1999).

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