Anne Lamont, in her book, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, relates the story of her interactions with a woman she designated as her enemy.
A woman she designated as her enemy.
Then Anne began to gather the evidence. She had “mean eyes.” She followed the rules of first grade, asking Anne if she needed help understanding the rules after she failed to pick up her son on short early out days. Her enemy had time to make treats for the class, and Anne did not have time or the desire or the skill. Her enemy’s son was a proficient reader while Anne’s son was a late reader. She offered to help Anne’s son. She goes on to list the many ways that her enemy inadvertently tripped into the trap of deserving her scorn.
Her enemy asked for a copy of Anne’s baby book, which included anti-Bush sentiments. After reading it, she said to Anne, “maybe it’s a good thing he doesn’t read.” Okay that is real evidence. Then she called her friends and family and trashed her enemy. I’ve done that, too – trash my enemies, that is.
But Anne went before God, struggling in prayer to forgive her enemy. It drove her to her knees. Help, she said. In the end, God opened her eyes and gave her the grace to forgive.
When we gather evidence against our enemies, we are playing the role of the great accuser, Satan. We bring up our list of grievances against them to our family and friends. When we chew the cud of their offenses in our minds, we are the accuser.
Satan is described as the accuser of the brethren. He goes before God accusing us of our wrongs, our failings, our unworthiness. He is the one who brings the case against us. He gathers the evidence against and presents it to God.
And justice requires the ultimate penalty.
But Jesus is our high priest who ever intercedes for us. He knows about our sin, our failings, our unworthiness. He knows that our case is hopeless. But he has paid the penalty in his own body on the cross. He intercedes for us before the Father and points to the cross and says, “I rest my case.”
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”