Over the years, I have had a few people who were enemies. In most cases, I was not the initiator of their enmity. I was surprised by it. However, in most cases, unfortunately, I responded to them likewise. You don’t win when you become an enemy to your enemy. Abraham Lincoln said, the only way to defeat an enemy is to turn them into a friend.
Sometimes that is not possible. So, how about turning them into a civil and polite acquaintance? I was able to do that in several cases. We aren’t friends, but we are civil, kind, and polite to one another. Peaceful coexistence is often a real option. I have a friend who has that relationship with a former spouse. It works out well – most of the time.
But there is another spiritually rich way to view an enemy. The authors of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership recommend using the idea of ally for anyone who is acting as an enemy to you. An ally is a person who helps you become more self-aware, helps you discern blind spots and personal weaknesses, gives you the opportunity to grow in relational skills, and I would add, helps you grow in Christ-likeness.
Any enemy can be transformed into an ally (even an unwitting one) who, by God’s grace and power, is used to bring good into your life. After all, God causes all things and all people to work together for your flourishing. Romans 8:31-39 is especially true when it comes to enemies.
There is a little spiritual jujitsu involved. It is something like what Joseph experienced with his brothers. They sold him into Egyptian slavery. They meant it for evil, but God used it for good. Joseph was able to see all the evil his brothers did and turn it into stepping stones for a flourishing future. You ask yourself, my enemy means this for my harm, but God wants to use this for my good. How is God doing that? What can I learn? How can I grow? What will keep me from doing this?
Here is a question you can ask: How will I best learn the lessons of mercy, love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, trust, and so much more? Answer: You will learn them as you deal with those who are enemies. They create the context for immense spiritual and emotional growth to take place in your life.
They may intend all they do against you for evil, but by God’s spiritual jujitsu, he will use it for your good, for your healing, for your transformation, and for you to become even more like his Son, Jesus.
So, who is an enemy you have right now? How can you begin to use them as an ally for the work of God in your life?
Your friend and ally in all things,
Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.