Do you have them? People who actively work against you, who work to destroy you? Maybe they are directly engaged in activities which are opposed to your purposes. Maybe your enemies aren’t so overt? They lurk in the shadows of your awareness, subtly undermining you or withholding their support. You know they’re out there, but they exists as a suspicion more than a known entity.
If you have enemies, perhaps you seek to return the favor, to derail and stymie them? Maybe you are obvious in your opposition, maybe not.
Enemies. They drain our energy. They rob us of time and passion. They trip us at the finish line and leave us feeling worn out and defeated. And when we can, we want our enemies to feel the same.
That’s the thing about enemies. These relationships are generally two-way streets. We want to give at least as good as we get. We plan and scheme and recruit others to our side. We can spend more time wrapped up with enemies than with our family and friends.
It can be exhausting.
But, what’s the alternative?
If we don’t work to defend our turf our stuff our people our pride, who will?
Some people do not seek our best…some want to see us fail and flounder and fall. It’s eat or be eaten.
Perhaps you have heard “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Keep your enemies close, because you need to keep an eye on them. Keep them close because you lose track of them and you’ll be ambushed when you least expect it. In fact, Sun Tzu offers plenty of advice on how to wage war with such strategies. So like me you may have thought this quote was from Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
That’s where I went searching, but in my research, I stumbled upon an entry claiming this quote is often misattributed to Sun Tzu. WikiQuotes cites the origin of the quote as coming from…
“Michael Corleone” in The Godfather Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola: My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
But maybe Hollywood isn’t the best source for instructing us on how to live with others. As a Christian (not as a general or as a mob boss), maybe I need to remember the prime source of authority for me is Scripture. Jesus has something to say on this topic.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48
Love your enemies.
I’m not sure I know how to do that. What does it look like? How much do I have to let go of to make that a reality? Love them like I love my wife and children? Love them like I love my friends? Like I love myself?
Sacrifice for them.
Offer them kindness.
Seek their best interest.
Work for their wellbeing.
Desire good to come to them.
I’m starting to see why Sun Tzu’s approach was so popular. I begin to understand why the Godfather is a classic. I also realize Jesus rarely did what was popula; he wasn’t interested in becoming a classic.
As His follower, I must let go of these desires as well.
So to all my enemies out there, known and unknown, I’m sending you a cyber hug. You’ll be suspicious of my hug. You’ll expect a knife in your back. You’ll take my hug as weakness and defeat. I’m going to hug you anyway. A man the world hated is teaching me how.
Life is better together,