Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
Psalm 27:3 (NIV)
So far as I know, I’ve only had three or four enemies in my lifetime and maybe only a couple of them actually wished me bodily harm. The others did me harm professionally. Even though their opposition deprived me of some serious money and a bit of sleep, no blood was shed.
Now, this is not to say I never had other people mad at me during these sixty-plus years. Having someone angry with you at a particular moment, even if they’d like to take a swing at the more fragile parts of your face, doesn’t necessarily make them your enemy. In the way I’m thinking of the term at this moment, an enemy is more committed than that. They’re not looking to relieve some temporary frustration; they’re in it for the long haul. I’m thinking of the kind of folks that get up thirty minutes early every morning just so they can hate you more. And can do that for years.
Part of the reason I suffer from the delusion that I have made very few enemies might be poor perception coupled with inferior memory. Maybe I’ve made more than I realized or have just forgotten about it because they never undertook significant retaliation. On the other hand, I have generally avoided most of the patterns of behavior that are so effective in fostering hostility. With a very few exceptions, people generally respond well to being treated with thoughtful decency and consideration. I have to live with knowing I’ve failed from time to time on that effort but it is still the goal. And that helps me walk in faith more than fear.
I’m not sure I have David’s confidence in the face of violence. Actually, I’m rather convinced that I don’t have it. War breaks out against me, I’m gonna be about as terrified as a Chihuahua in a thunderstorm. On the other hand, I am pretty sure it’s all going to turn out okay.
My enemy may deprive me of a key opportunity or so persistently undermine and harass me that I will walk away from a high-paying job. But my integrity will still be intact and no amount of back-stabbing, deceit and hypocrisy will take that away. At least, as long as I make sure those actions are coming from my opponent and not from me!
In some battles, the greatest danger is that we become like our enemies.