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“I Have a Religion!” 1 Samuel 18:1-12 Key verse(s): 11-12:“. . . and he hurled it, saying to himself, ‘I’ll pin David to the wall.’ But David eluded him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul.”

In a world where we seek only peace and kindness there is, perhaps, nothing more difficult to deal with on a daily basis than those who seek to destroy that peace and blunt that kindness; our enemies. Everyone has them. I have not yet run into an individual who could say that there have never been enemies in their life. Reminds me of the old centenarian who was being interviewed on the day of his 100th birthday. The reporter asked all the right questions. “To what do you attribute your longevity?” “How does it feel to have lived a century?” But then he asked this question: “Did you have any enemies?” The old man’s eyes lit up and he squared his eyes with the camera. “Nope!” He answered with a sureness which surprised the interviewer. “Not a one. I’ve outlived every one of them!”

It is in the nature of living that sooner or later, no matter how hard we try, we will discover a detractor in life. It may be someone who simply has taken a dislike to us for no apparent reason. Or, in our dealings with them, they have perceived somehow an injustice or a slight. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that sooner or later you will have them. And, like that nagging pain in a joint that never seems to go away, you either decide to live with it or complain about it.

Abraham Lincoln was a man who had in the course of his life “piled enemies just as high as friends.” A president has a tendency to do that because of his visibility and position. Some of Lincoln’s detractors were, nonetheless, extremely venomous. They sniped at him in the newspapers and on the floor of Congress. They went out of their way to pull down not only his decisions but his character whenever they could. Lincoln had grown accustomed to their constant sniping and seemed to be able to let that roll right off his back. There were, however, the ones who pretended to be his friends but, when the situation presented itself, turned around and stabbed him in the back. Of these he said, “They’re like that grapevine yonder that twists itself around the tree. Looks like a good marriage. But in the end the tree’s the one that chokes and smothers.”

Lincoln had learned to live with his many enemies. It took a lot of forbearance to do that. Nonetheless, when it comes to our enemies, God has asked much more than our forbearance; He has commanded that we turn around and hug that son-of-a-gun even when he has his gun pointed in our direction. That, it would seem, is one of the more implausible things that He has asked us to do because, by nature, we simply are ill-equipped to do it. Love our enemies?

While it seems natural to want to crush those who have crushed you, God leaves no place in His Word for us to do that. He has reserved judgement for Himself and not for us. Saul tried to kill David but David responded only with protection and love. Saul was intimidated by David in many ways. He was jealous and envious. Perhaps there is someone is your life who has grown to dislike you in that way. Perhaps, like David, something you do intimidates them and makes them feel uncomfortable. Although it is natural to strike back or at least avoid them, God is asking much more of you and I. He wants us to embrace our enemies, think well of them and love them. There can be no room in a Christian’s heart for hatred even when it seems fair and just. Our “religion” does not afford us this luxury.

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