By Michelle C. Danko
Loving those who persecute you, dislike you, and go out of their way to harm you has to be one of the most difficult tasks- but not impossible. It is challenging to love someone who deliberately tries to sabotage your career, who lies about you, or who goes out of their way to make your life unpleasant. A sense of injustice rises up in us because often we do not know why they appear to deliberately seek to destroy us. Sometimes, believe it or not, they may not know why either. So how do you love the “unlovable”?
We can try to make sense of why someone would go out of their way to destroy us, but the reasons can be too numerous to mention, or perhaps no real reason at all. You have people who will try to destroy a career out of envy or a competitive drive. These people see their sabotage attempts as necessary to getting ahead in life, and view it as a “game” that everyone is playing. They will choose to win at any cost. However, ultimately, it will be their own. Deceit has a way of catching up to you, and woe to the person who reaches the top by stepping on all of those beneath them!
Ultimately, in this case, you need to recognize that promotion comes from the Lord, not man. If God wants you in a position and your heart is pure, no one can stop you. It may look like others are passing you, but it may not be your time. You need to be content where you are because greater things are yet to come. Let God sift people out. It will make things easier for you and trust that He will make a way if this is where you are to be.
While it may look like the non-believers are getting ahead, do not get frustrated. Both Christians and non-believers know what happens when we do things on our own strength. Christians can at least repent and have everything restored. Where do non-believers go? Who advises them? People who get ahead based on deceit and poor character fail because they do not have the skills to maintain that position. Selfish ambition never wins in the long run. They will never have the support of those under them because most often they are the people that they “stepped” on to get to the top. They fail because often their deeds are exposed and can be exposed with God.
Never feel that you are not noticed, or that it just doesn’t pay to be a Christian. I can guarantee Christians stick out in the workforce because they simply don’t operate the way the world does. If you want to be noticed, be genuinely kind to others and be helpful. The co-workers that you are kind to now will support you later. This is also the way that God wants you to treat others: with kindness. He also wants you to be kind to your enemies- that is where you will really stand out.
If you know someone is out to destroy you (Satan may be using this person as well) pray over them. Love them enough to pray over them and the situation. God can move when we have a pure heart. Don’t pray out of anger, but righteous indignation. The difference between the two is with anger, your prayers will not be heard because of the hardness of your heart. Righteous indignation comes from knowing that their behavior is not right, not godly, and is meant for destruction. Prayer of this kind comes from knowing your authority in Christ and pushing back against the enemy. God can move in this situation and expose the deceit for what it is without you having to retaliate or having to defend yourself. If you have good character, you shouldn’t have to defend yourself, or defend yourself too hard.
Why love your enemies? Aside from the fact that scripture tells us to, God commands us to love our enemies because through it, God can use us to bring about change in people’s lives. Loving our enemies often confuses them because they expect you to dislike them. They expect a rivalry, not pleasantness. Unless there is a serious mental issue, most people don’t continue to attack those who refuse to engage. It should be mentioned that we don’t just become passive. We need to set up appropriate boundaries that don’t get crossed so that others don’t take advantage of us. However when boundaries are crossed, we stand firmly against the offending actions, and simply state that they are not acceptable. If the person mocks you, then pray harder!
Most enemies will back down if you are a confident in yourself. People become targets only when it is perceived that there is a weakness. By being kind (not passive), it opens doors for you to witness to others and to show the love of Christ. Jesus understood persecution too well, yet His love for others never waivered. It could never be said that Jesus was passive or meek, He was confident in who He was- He was the Son of God firm in His identity- and that’s what we need to be. People never “got” to Jesus, and yet none of us could endure the type of persecution that He underwent. If Jesus could do it, we can too. We have God on our side, and no one pushes His “kids” around!
Never waiver in godly (good) character as the world does not expect this kind of behavior. People are taught to be competitive and to always have that “edge” over another. Society teaches us to compete with others, and at their expense even when it’s a clean fight. There is a winner, and a looser. True competitiveness should come from within. We should strive to make ourselves better intellectually, mentally, and spiritually as this is what will set us apart. God wants to refine us to be more like Him, and this is an image that Satan hates, and the world doesn’t understand. Because the world doesn’t understand it, often people will ask you why you behave the way you do, or what is it about you that is different. This allows you to minister to them and teach them about the love of God.
Christians are noticed because they don’t play by the same rules. If you want to truly be noticed, why would you behave like everyone else? Then you blend in. Also, as an employer, you would want to promote someone who is competent, who will get the job done, and who is able to get the job done. Nothing hurts a business more than a team that does not operate cohesively. Even if you are promoted and have people under you that do not like you, you will find that God can move over these situations. Those that don’t particularly like you may find themselves inexplicably cooperating. They may also find themselves moved out as well. God has a way of protecting His children.
Loving your enemies may be the hardest thing to do, but the rewards are greater that just loving those who love you. Where is the victory in that? “Enemies” can be placed in our lives to teach us something. Victory comes when we pass the test. Loving our enemies helps us to share the gospel with those who may need it the most. Often people who hurt others are covering up the fact that they are either hurt, or insecure. If you were secure in your abilities, you wouldn’t have to destroy others. These people need God, but many of them don’t know it yet. If we simply treated others the way they treated us, how would we change the world with a God kind of love? How could we reach others with a love that they are searching for? We would be keeping the love of Christ for ourselves, and not impacting lives who need it the most. Jesus reached out to the lost, hurting and broken. If we just treat others as they treat us, what sets us apart? Are we truly emulating the love of Christ?