Levi Lusko - How to Get Rid of Your Enemies
OK, if you have a Bible, 2 Kings chapter 6 is where we're going to be. 2 Kings chapter 6. We talked last week, if you didn't hear the message, about how to get a grip. About what to do in life when you feel like, man, I'm losing my grip. What I'm carrying is too heavy, it's slipping. We used the analogy of this man whose ax head went into the water. He lost his grip on something, and God helped him to get it back. He can help us all to get a grip. And we continue in the same text this week. And we're going to talk today, about how to get rid of your enemies. How to, you have to rub your hands together when you say that. I want to teach you how to get rid of your enemies. It's not what you think it means. You sinners. You were so excited about that. Here's the cool thing. And I kind of set this message up last week. It really is a two part, if you didn't listen to last week, check it out on YouTube at some point. I told you at the very end that once you have a grip, you will be able to help others get theirs. And that's where we come in. How to get rid of your enemies.
2 Kings chapter 6 starting in verse 15, "And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And the servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So he answered, 'Do not fear.'" We said that that phrase appears 365 times in the Bible, here and 364 others. So every single day of the week you have reason not to fear, no matter what you're facing. This man was staring into the face of something that made him afraid, and the man of God said, do not fear. Why? "For those who are with us are more than those who are with them".
Someone say that doesn't make sense. That doesn't make sense. Because there are two people standing there. Two people on a team. And the man of God says there's more on our side than on our enemies. Staring at an entire army, chariots, horses, the whole deal. There's more on our side than on theirs. This is the point at which the man of God has clearly lost his mind. Because the servant's thinking, I'm not great at math, but one plus one is two and there's a whole freaking army over there, bro. He says no there's more on our side than on their side. He said all right cool, maybe I miscounted. One, two. All right, thousands. What in the heck are we to do with this.
"Do not fear those who are with us are more than those who are with them". Verse 17, and "Elisha prayed, and said, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain, behind the soldiers, was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him," presumably to attack them, "Elisha pray to the Lord, and said, 'Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.' And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha". That's where we ended last week. And I will have you note, in passing, that the angels didn't fight the Syrians. The angels gave Elisha the strength to fight this battle. So the knowledge of the heavenly reality of God's help, it didn't cause him say all right go ahead angels, attack them, knowing that the angels were there gave him confidence to obey the Lord here in the situation. So having God in your life isn't going to mean that you're going to do less, but based on His power, He's going to give you the strength to do what He needs you to do.
Now let's continue verse 19, "Elisha said to them, 'This is not the way,'" it's like The Mandalorian, but he botched the line. "'Nor is this the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.' But he led them to Samaria". 12 miles, by the way, the journey to Samaria, the capital city of the nation of Israel. "So it was, when they had come to Samaria, that Elisha said, 'Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.' And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and there they were, inside Samaria"! And they started wetting their pants like the servant had previously, because now they're surrounded by the enemy. They had come to kill this one dude and they saw him all alone with just a little servant. So they thought easy. Next thing they know they're standing there surrounded by the entire army of Israel.
Now when the King of Israel saw them, like fish in a barrel, he said to Elisha, "My father," look at this, "Shall I kill them? Shall I kill them"? He repeats it twice because he's really excited. "But he answered, you shall not kill them. Would you kill those whom you have taken captive with your sword and your bow? Set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master. Then he prepared a great feast for them" and they ate and they drank and after "he sent them away and they went to their master. So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel". Let's quite our hearts for just a second together.
Jesus we want you to speak to us through these words. We know that we're going to face troubles in this life and deal with difficult people. We pray that you would help us to do what Elisha knew would fix the fear in his servant's heart and what he asked for you to do for his enemy as well, that blind eyes would be opened. So that's what we want to happen. We pray over ourselves, Lord open our eyes so we could see. And we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
I googled my title this week. I came up with the message title, "How To Get Rid of Your Enemies". And I was like I'm going to Google that, just see what comes up. Just curious what would come up if you googled, "how to get rid of your enemies". And I kind of was worried that it might come up like a Wile E. coyote website, like acme bombs, and you can mail them or whatever. But I was laughing so hard because when I googled "how to get rid of your enemies," I hadn't even finished it, when Google started auto filling in the page. And it turns out, there's a lot of things people want to get rid of. I mean there's hiccups, there's fruit flies, there's gnats, there's bedbugs there's flies. Turns out people have a lot of insect issues in their lives. There's canker sores. There's earwigs. I had to do a sub Google search in a new tab, I didn't even know that was a thing. That's terrible and disturbing. And then I was laughing because I was like, well I'm going to find out what YouTube has to say about it, because the auto-fill thing is just such a journey.
Here's where YouTube tells people to, people are going to YouTube to get rid of pimples, and double chins, and hickeys, and dandruff, and stretchmarks, and acne scars, and the fruit flies are back people, and dark circles under their eyes. You see the reality is we have a lot of times in our lives when we're like, man, how do I get rid of this. And whether it's the double chin, that's all about camera angles by the way, that's what that's all about. Find your light and hide the chin. But the reality is, we oftentimes do find ourselves in situations where we feel like we have enemies coming against us. So how do we get rid of enemies? We first of all, I think we start by acknowledging the obvious truth and that is that to some extent it's going to be impossible. Meaning, that we don't have the absolute say in the matter, but we can control our part.
So I can't decide whether you're going to view me as an enemy, but I can decide if I'm going to reciprocate and view you the same way. And that's why I love the advice that's given to us in the book of Romans chapter 12 verse 18 when it says, "If," look at it, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men". Don't you love the fact that God is letting you off the hook of having the final say in the situation of the hostility you're up against. If it is possible, meaning, God saying you're going to do everything you can do but you won't always be able to end the animosity. And that's not even the goal at the end of the day because we know that when we're doing it right, good things are going to happen to us for sure, but there are also going to be difficulties that arise as a result of following Jesus. Paul put it this way in his letter to Timothy. He said Yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
So what am I trying to get you to see? I'm trying to get you to see the enemies are a part of the equation of following God. Hostility, difficulty, people that are difficult to handle, they're going to seemingly come out of the woodwork the more you follow Christ and do what he's called you to do. So it is a bit like what Elbert Hubbard said. I love this quote. I used it in my book, I Declare War, "To escape criticism," here's the formula, "do nothing, say nothing, be nothing". So if you don't want to get criticized, if you don't want to have enemies, if you don't want to have people who are mad at you, and angry at you, and hostile towards you, there is a way to get rid of your enemies. Yeah, just do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. But as you follow Christ, you are going to have people who are talking crap about you. In fact, Jesus said view that as a compliment that you're doing something right. He said, I love this verse, he said woe to you if all men speak well of you. If every single person has nothing but positive things to say, there is something that you're probably doing wrong. You should ask yourself, what's wrong? Like how am I not doing what God called me to do, because it will invite some persecution and complexity in my life.
So we have to acknowledge that there's our part that we can play. And my sermon in a sentence is that having enemies is inevitable, but choosing to be an enemy is optional. We can choose to get rid of our enemies by just choosing to say, well you might look at me that way but I refuse to see you in that light. And this text, I believe, provides us some principles that can help us to navigate the hostility that we are in. The times in which, now of course it's different, Elisha had this entire army trying to kill him, right? So that's likely to not be something that's waiting for you tomorrow. I hope it's not. But we can find principles that will help us dealing with the difficult people in our lives. And the first is that we need perspective. We always must first come back to perspective. Come back to vision, which is the primary kind of emphasis of this story. Because Gahazih is freaking out in this situation because his perspective is based on human understanding and human wisdom. We always get into unnecessary heartache when we only look at what's there and we don't look at what God says is there.
So the lens of scripture, the lens of what God has spoken, must always be applied. Like when you're at the optometrist getting your annual vision examination. Lens A or lens B? Lens C or lens D? And I always, anybody else get like, I don't know can I see D again? I'm not sure. Like I can't remember how it felt to see through C. Go back to it. Like am I abusing the go back to this thing? And I'm just like I don't know. I feel like I've such a need to please you. Right? Is there a right answer in this situation? But we have to put that lens of scripture in place. And so will almost, I find myself like three days a week like Gahazih panicking at a situation and forgetting, oh that's right I have to put that lens of faith in place. Because we don't walk by sight, we walk by faith. If we want to have the unflappability of Elisha, we have to remember the unseen realm. Because you can't see angels. Duh. You can't see God. You can't see what he's up to. You can't see his plan. And oftentimes when it seems like he's absent, it's when He's doing the most.
And so you have to take God's truth and put it in front of you and then look at your same situation through that lens. And then you'll have the calm. And I also want to point out, that the angels didn't fight the battle for Elisha. Elisha, based on the strength of knowing the angels were there, then had the confidence to take action. So the angels didn't do the work, the angels bolstered him to remember, oh that's right, I'm not alone. God has more power than the enemy does. So now I can do what I need to do, because there are angels there. And so it is for you. When you remember the perspective of, I'm not alone, God's here. Right? OK, so now how does this translate over to difficult people in our lives? I think very well, because of the intentional overlap of what Elisha does in response. OK, so the servant is freaking out because he's staring at the soldiers, and God wants him to lift his eyes and look beyond the soldiers to the army of God behind them. That he thought I'm surrounded, and God wanted him to see no, no, they're surrounded. They're surrounded. OK?
So then, the band of soldiers to whole, all their chariots, all their horses, all the King's men get brought into the city. And they're all like just standing there blinded and obviously they're, now they've got an army of Israel's soldiers around them. And the King rushes in like, can I kill 'em? Can I kill 'em? Can I kill 'em? Can I kill 'em? Can I kill 'em? And Elisha, now, wants the King to look, not beyond the soldiers, but inside the soldiers. God wants the King to look inside the soldiers and to ask the question, what's potentially there? I know they're hostile. They've chosen to be my enemy. But God wants us, in those situations, just as much as when we're afraid we have to look beyond the enemy, the people that are being mean, the people that are being nasty, the people that are being rude. I believe in the situations where we feel like people are just rubbing us the wrong way God wants us to look at the unseen inside of them, the fact that they were created in His image, that they're a person.
And I think that's what's hard about our impersonal age of comment, were it's easy just to snipe, and to be mean, and to be cruel online, and to say things quite frankly, that in many situations we would never say to someone face to face. So when we look within we see this is a person. This is a person who admittedly is acting badly. Now, none of this sermon is meant to say that the rude, and the cruel, and evil, and the sinful, and the treacherous, and that's, oftentimes, even perhaps illegal or immoral things are excused. But when people are acting out when we look within we're saying what's behind that? We're asking the question, how can I get to compassion on this person? Because it's easy to just get to anger at this person, but when we see the unseen now, we see they were created in God's image. God has a plan for this person. He has things he wants to do through them that don't involve how they're currently behaving. We then ask the question, how can I be a part of them getting to where God wants them to be here and not get distracted by this bad behavior.
So when we have vision we look within and we remember that the greatest thing we can ever do to get someone to where they need to be is through love. In fact, Jesus put it very clearly Luke 6:32, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you"? Notice this, "For even sinners love those who love them". Now I usually have thought about this verse in relation to the first part, it's easy to love those who love you, duh, right? But then I thought about the second. He's giving us a clue, even sinners love those who love them. Sinners love those, sinners love, sinners love those who love them. So at times when we're angry at someone it's because they've sinned against us. How can we help that sinners love those who love them? It makes it easy for them to take a step towards what God has for them when we show them love despite the fact that they have chosen to sin. How do we get to that empathy for them? I believe it starts with empathy towards ourselves. I really do. Obviously, we can love ourselves too much. Right? We can fall into the narcissism, we can fall into self obsession, but I think a lot of us, we have a different issue.
And that's that we don't show kindness. We don't show love to ourselves. And we don't realize at times that there is a root underneath the fruit of our own bad behavior. And when we can have kindness and see our own selves through the lens of someone that God loves, someone who's been damaged, someone who's made bad decisions, and when we start with sympathy towards ourselves, we can get to a place where we're more easily capable of showing love to those who have sinned against us. What I'm trying to get you to see, and this just for me maybe you have a different story, is that I often treat people that I should be loving, but instead I'm being unkind to, in the way I feel about me. Often times I'm cruel to others but it's because I'm unhappy with myself and I'm disappointed in myself. I'm frustrated with me and so I'm lashing out at you. And sometimes I'm hoping that you'll treat me, because of how I treat you, as bad as I feel about me.
And so when we start to ask the question what's under our bad behavior? What's the sin under the sin? What's the emptiness here we're trying to fill? What's the thrashing about that we're doing because of the insecurity inside we're harboring? And we start to have empathy on ourselves, and kindness, and then medicate that with the love of God and not with anything else, that will never work, that will just numb it for a moment, but then it'll come back with a vengeance. Right? Like it's easy when I get a canker sore, like to answer this person's question, I have had canker sores my whole life. Anybody else have canker sores? It's terrible. Right? It's easy just to grab Kanka, which is a numbing antiseptic. All it does is, not antiseptic, it's just a numbing agent. Just numbs it for me. It basically tells your brain to ignore the problem for a minute. That doesn't help it though. You know what helps it? Listerine. But you know what that feels like? Not great, right? That which actually will help it, feels horrible. That which does nothing to treat it, feels wonderful. Just takes the pain away for a minute.
So when we start to move towards empathy, towards ourselves, and realize when we make the mistake of treating other people badly, oftentimes it's because of something we're wrestling with in here. And then we can jump to the leap of well that's probably true in their situation as well. What's underneath this that's causing them to be an enemy to me? So perspective, perspective is number one. Just that vision. What I'm trying to get you to see is there's more going on than meets the eye. When someone is being cruel to you, we ask the prayer that Elisha prayed twice, God open my eyes to see what's actually happening here. The second thing I want you to see, is that prayer is essential. The very fact that Elisha prays twice in this story should clue us to that. And I'll have you noticed, he prayed the same prayer for his friend as he did for his rivals. He prayed the same prayer for the person who was on his side as he did for the person that was against him. That is to say, the same thing is needed in both situations. That you can confront two situations, but the same cure is needed here.
So often times we're up against this, the answer is God open my eyes that I may see. We're up against that, it's a completely different crisis. It's a completely different difficulty. Speaking to hurting people on the phone, it's something that I do as a pastor. And you know what? When I talk to the person who I know has just had to bury his daughter, and I'm talking to them because I can relate on some level to what they're going through, not every level because every situation is unique, every pain is very personal, every pain is very different. When I'm talking to that person, my prayer in my heart is for talking to God I pray you would open his eyes that he might see. And I'm talking to the person who's in a terrible fight with a person they started a business with, and I'm encouraging him. When I'm praying, I'm praying God open his eyes that he may see.
The point is, when we can see the invisible, regardless of the storm, we will be able to do the impossible. But that's the heart of this prayer. But I want to just encourage you in the fact that Elisha, in both of these situations, chose to pray. So when he was up against enemies and difficulty, he prayed. The King chose to slay. Elisha chose to pray. A lot of times we will choose obliteration when God wants us to resort to intercession. We will want to just rain down fire on our enemies and God wants us to have a heart of compassion. One of the most convincingly relatable, text to me in all of the Bible is Luke chapter 9. When Jesus sent the disciples out to find a place for him to stay. And the Samaritans, who he was going to stay with, no one would let Jesus stay there because they were in rivalry and there were difficulties and they were fighting and all this. So the disciples went to try and find an Airbnb. They tried to find a... They couldn't find nothing. They were like nope, this seat is taken. You can't stay here.
The disciples came back, notice this, this is Luke 9:54, the disciples, James and John learned of it, "they said Master, do you want us to call a bolt of lightning down out of the sky and incinerate them"? They said this like dead serious. Oh my God. I finally found my people. And Jesus turned on them and said, look at this, "Of course not"! Of course not. Like if you've ever thought the disciples were holier than you, wrong. These are people. These are humans. And listen I'm not preaching this message to you from the ivory tower of I've got it together. I think, if anything, God gave me this message because he knows how badly I need it. I have had two middle aged women scream at me in the past month. Scream at me. OK? And I neither time handled it well. I just want to confess this to you, in church. Aren't you supposed to do confession in church?
The first time I was in an art gallery and a frozen yogurt shop. It was confusing. It was an art gallery over here, a frozen yogurt shop over there. My daughter wanted frozen yogurt. I didn't want art or yogurt. But I'm a good dad, It's who I am, a good good father. I'm joking. OK, so, I said, let's get you some yogurt. And so we went in and the mask mandate had been lifted in the state I was currently in. And so there was a big sign that said masks required, but I knew that had been lifted. So we went in with no mask and my daughter went up to get frozen yogurt. And no one had masks on in the frozen yogurt shop. And so I'm just standing there. I don't want yogurt, so I'm just like doing an email while I'm waiting for her. And all of a sudden I hear this voice over and over again, you have to have a mask on! You have to have a mask on! I'm like who's that being yelled at? And I realized it was me. There's a woman in the art gallery screaming at me.
And I was like, Oh it was lifted, the governor lifted the mask mandate and no one has the mask on anywhere that I can see. There was no one in the art gallery but me and this woman. And I was like Oh I don't have to, I don't think. And she's like, you have to have a mask on in my art gallery! And I'm telling you, one inch of my shoulder was in her art gallery I realized. I was on a column writing this email and I swear like half of my rotator cuff was in her art gallery. But my mouth wasn't in her art gallery and she's 30 feet away behind a Plexiglas penalty box, shielded on every side, wearing two masks and screaming at me, you have to have a mask on. And I was like, I pulled my rotator cuff out, and said, I'm not in your art gallery anymore. And that made her furious. And she came charging out of the art penalty box with a can of Lysol, spraying it at me. And got within five feet of me and I held my ground. And then I backed away and what came out of me, God will have to forgive me for. I said, you are a psychopath. I said that to her. And her response, she stopped spraying and she said, you don't know what my life is like. And I was like I can't argue with that. I really can't. But what I said was, I think I have some idea. And then I left the art gallery, OK?
Now look, I'm not going to tell you the second story because it makes me look worse than the first one. But both times walking away, as my heart started coming down, I heard the Holy Spirit just doing that thing he does, that we hate so much, that we wish he would stop immediately doing. And it's just asking the question, why am I so easily provoked? And why is it that my mind doesn't naturally gravitate towards, God bless them. Curse me. You know, it's more like God, this would be a great time for a bolt of lightning to incinerate her stupid art gallery and her dumb can of Lysol. I think that's actually assault what she did, God. And how dare she, and all the rest. All I'm trying to get you to see is if you feel like you're more prone to slay, slay, slay, than pray, pray, pray, then congratulations, you're a human being. But you, and me, and every other dysfunctional person who doesn't have a halo on, we are just in need of God's grace, in need of God's help. The point is, it's not easy. Doing this is not easy. Loving people who love you is easy. The girl in the frozen yogurt shop was so nice. And she was like, I'm so sorry. I was like I'm sorry you have to work alongside crazy Lysol lady. So we gave her a nice tip and encouraged her in her day. She was easy to love, the other person wasn't.
Now in your life, and in my life, this isn't a the COVID sermon, this isn't a mask message, this isn't even a Lysol advertisement. It's just, although I don't think your supposed to spray it in someone's face, I'm just saying. But what I am saying is that loving the unlovable isn't easy. Which is why it's something to aspire to. Which is why it's something that God has to do deep work in us to get us to. And I would submit to you, it is third point, an act of defiance. It's an act of defiance. Because we live in a world full of scripts. There are scripts lying everywhere. And the scripts that are in this world, here's what they are. They are tit for tat. They are eye for an eye. And we walk around and the moment someone hits an eye, our response is to go for an eye. And in fact to escalate, right? You do this, I'll do that. And I think the world we're living in not one more level, and just one more level, and just I'll go for the jugular. And that's the world we live in.
We walk around with all these scripts lying around. You can't see them, but it's like on a movie set where there's a script. You have it in your hand. Here is what supposed to say here. Here's what I'm supposed to read here. This is what I'm supposed to say in this situation. And so we get into instances and situations where we're provoked and the natural thing to do is to respond in kind. But all that does is cause it to escalate, escalate, escalate, escalate. And when we feel like we've been unjustly provoked, that's when we become indignant. And I think we're the most dangerous and the most capable of missing an opportunity to love the unlovable then when we know we were provoked wrongly. And when someone goes, OK I'm going to tell you the second story just because some of you are using your bad imaginations and you think I'm worse than I really am. I'm bad, but not that bad. All right, whatever you're imagining.
I was dropping my daughter off at work. Yes, I have a daughter with a job and that's stressful on its own level. But I was dropping her off at work and so I just pull in front of where she works and stopped the car so she could get out just real quick and I go on. I didn't need to park because I wasn't parking. I was just stopping, hopping out, it's a thing we do at times in life, right? I'm making a case for why I was right here in this moment already. Like our little internal litigator it never ceases to amaze us, right? And I hear a honking horn behind me. How passive aggressive is that? It's not even passive, it's just aggressive. I'm like ah, this person doesn't like that I'm stopped here. And I'm like it's just a quick second, door is open, young girl is getting out of car, clearly going to be moving on in just a minute, right? But this person has somewhere to go and people to scream at. And so she pulls by me and shows me with one of her fingers that she doesn't appreciate my daughter going to work. And then she, so I literally roll down my window I'm like just stopped so she get out. And she starts mother f-ing and da da ba da. I was just like, what's the matter with you, is what I said.
It's 9:30 in the morning, and you've used two bad words already at a perfect stranger. And you know what my tone did not do? Pacify the situation. I didn't curse. I didn't flip her off, but now I had matched her energy level with my statement and so she needed to go one level, so she grabs her phone and starts filming me. I was like, what are you going to do with that video? And I drove away. It was an opportunity for me to love the unlovable, and I failed. I didn't curse her out, but I didn't de-escalate the situation. And I think we are all the time confronted with opportunity. Now look I get it. I was well within my rights to be frustrated at this woman here, but what I miss the chance to do was to realize that in the kingdom of God we don't have to speak the lines written for us that we find lying around in this world. We get to write our own lines. You don't have to say what they put on the prompter as you stand in front of the camera. You get to choose to speak your own lines. That's what's so disruptive and counter-cultural about the upside-down kingdom.
That's what's so powerful about the Sermon on the Mount, which was not written for to guide and inform how we, as a nation, handle escalation, but how we, as individuals walking around dealing with personal one on one transgression, would respond in a way when we're provoked. Think about what Jesus said. You've heard it said to love those who love you, but I say to you love your enemies and do good to those who hate you and bless those who curse you. Oftentimes I'm pleased with myself if I just don't curse those who curse me. But Jesus is saying no. That's just the scratching the surface. That's good, don't get me wrong. That's good some days, right? But could we aspire to get to a place where based on compassion and empathy we could actually love those and bless those who curse you, to pray for those who spitefully use you.
I wrote it down this way, light bulb, you don't have to play the part you were casted in in someone else's story. That's a light bulb moment. That's a realization. I don't have to play the part that you have me type set in, that you have casted for me. I can choose the defiance of responding in a way that I choose based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And you know what? When you do that, it throws people off because they're expecting you're going to match their energy, you're going to do this, they're going to do that, you're going to do this, they're going to do that, and it's just going to provoke, and then they're going to feel justified for doing whatever is in their heart. Or going home feeling smug about however they chose to live. But I believe it throws people off in the best possible way. This is that whole thing about showing kindness to the person who hates you and putting coals of fire down upon their head that's so confusing and cryptic. But I love how another translation helps us to see it.
This is Romans 12, "Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you". Look at this, "get the best of evil by doing good". Because my kids do jujitsu I can't help but see that in this scripture. Because the momentum of the person who is coming at you, using it against them to where what they think is going to attack you, using that to actually disrupt their energy. And I just love that God has given us the ability to be nimble enough on our feet to see a script that we have in our hands, and just before we're about to belt it to realize this isn't what I want to say. What I want to say is actually going to be something that's going to show kindness to you and destabilize you in the best possible way.
Number four, we're almost done here today, if this has not helped you I'm sorry but it's helped me to get some of this off my chest. I believe that the fourth thing that can help you to get rid of your enemies is generosity. Generosity. The King is told to give the soldiers bread and water. He says we're not going to kill them bro. I'm going to pray that God opens their eyes because they need the same God that Gahazih needed. They need the same God that I need. I'm going to pray for them. So you go get them some bread and water. And I love this. This is not a good King by the way. When you read the rest of the story, he does not come off well at all, all right? Trust me. But when I look at this moment, I find something to praise in him. And that is that he's told to give his enemies bread and water and the text tells us he threw them a feast. The text tells us that he threw them a banquet.
And I just love, I see the gospel in that. I see what God has done for me. I know what I deserve from God. I know how many times I've ruined it, right? I feel like I've been the Prodigal Son 1,000 times as a Jesus follower in moments. And I've just so many times mess up, and get it wrong, and don't handle the chances God's given me to show grace, and to be kind. And I drive away with remorse and I just see I see the kind of version of me that I want to become, that I know the Spirit's trying to shape me into being. I know what it could look like if we were a people just who are aware of the fact that when we were at our worst, God threw us a party. When we didn't deserve anything, much less bread and water, God's like I'm going to throw you a table, and kill the fatted calf, and put the ring on your finger, and the robe on your shoulders. When you've been handed that kind of love that you don't deserve, it makes you a kind of person who's capable of being generous with people who don't deserve it.
And I just love it. I love that this is what Jesus said to do. He said if anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you and from him who wants to borrow, do not turn away. You've seen ExtraMile gas stations before. ExtraMile gas stations, you're driving of course they're like if you fill up you won't run out of tank, run out of gas we're driving. But that whole concept of the ExtraMile comes from this verse. In the Roman Empire a soldier could touch you with the end of his staff, any person, and you had to carry his burden a mile. Exactly one mile, no more, no less. And so it was customary in that day, if a soldier did make you carry his gear a mile, to get exactly to that mile. You would count the steps in your mind, and when you got to the exact last step of the mile, to throw it on the ground and not be willing to do any more. Meaning do only as much as you technically have to. This is the thinking behind, how much do I have to forgive? Is seven times enough? Jesus said no, not seven, it's 70 times seven. It's having that sense that God forgive you what you never could have worked off in 1,000 lifetimes.
So don't just do exactly what's needed, exactly what's right, exactly what's fair. What he's saying, and by the way the Sermon on the Mount was not given for us to walk around like here's my list of things to do, here's my list of things to do. The Sermon on the Mount was given to discourage people who thought they were good with God. You think you're good with God? Here's what it actually would take to live. You've got to live this way all the time. And you think just because you've never had murdered someone, if you've ever hated someone that's bad too. So the Sermon on the Mount, by the way, was not given so you and I could walk around like all right, here's what we got to do. We got to love our enemies. All right, God's going to, the Sermon that was meant to make us feel like, oh crap. Well none of us are good, but God's good and he gave us a feast when we deserve nothing and therefore, it makes us want to do the kind of things embodied within it because we've been freed by grace. And we've been just completely destroyed by God's goodness in the face of our not deserving it.
All right, so it would just make us a generous people if we could be that way. And what is the response of these soldiers? What is the response of these soldiers? Well we read it in the text, the raiding bands of Syria came into Israel no more. I love it, because a raiding band, many commentaries agree, was built of soldiers when they were on the clock. When they weren't on the clock these soldiers would get together and come into Israel and steal, and plunder, and raid. And these soldiers had a job. And as jobs, they responded to their King. And if you even just read the next verse, Josephus tells us that the next verse is actually several years away, but just one verse down there's another act of aggression based on the King of Syria's part. And he sends all of his army, and if you read more you're going to really get freaked out. People are eating donkey's heads and stuff. But let's just stop here for a moment. These men should have been killed. They weren't killed. They were instead given a feast and sent home and the rest of their lives they went into Israel no more. Meaning when it was their choice, they no longer were the enemies. When it was their choice, they no longer wanted to take something from the Israelites.
Here's the sentence that wrote this message. Matthew Henry said it, "The most glorious victory over an enemy is to turn him into a friend". How to get rid of your enemies. You show them the love that they're not expecting and that they don't deserve. This is what has made our 16th president so many of our favorites. "With malice toward none," was not just a sentiment in the second inaugural that would inform how the nation would treat those in the South after the Civil War. It was also a part of how he formed his cabinet when he became the president in the first place. Lincoln famously built his cabinet out of a team of rivals, men who had ran against him, men who had opposed him. He just said the question, who would do the best job. Not who's on my team, who can do something for me, who can do the best job. And he had it in his heart to get the 13th Amendment passed. He had it in his heart all these things. Who is the best? Who's the most tactically best team to build together?
So he, to borrow a phrase from a book that was written about him in this regard, built a team of rivals. He took enemies, and made them friends. One person who betrayed him even after that, and in response to his betrayal, he still was the best man Lincoln saw for a unique job. Lincoln appointed him to be Supreme Court justice. After Lincoln's death he famously said, Lincoln is so magnanimous it's almost supernatural. Meaning I don't deserve that, but he still chose to give. That's greatness. We all recognize it when we see it. But in the moment when we need it the most, it's often the most counterintuitive thing there is because it is so natural to be eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I love here the spirit of what, these Syrian bands of raiders they never forgot the feast they had the day they should have been executed.
All right 3 things and we're done. 3 things and we're done. The alternative to trying our hardest to turn enemies into friends is to be poisoned by bitterness. That's just like a take away. Just so you know, the alternative to trying to turn enemies into friends, not that you'll always be successful, but the alternative to trying is to be poisoned by bitterness. Jot this reference down to read on your own Hebrews 12 versus 14 through 15. Second thing I want you to write down is that you'll never be ready. Being generous with people who are jerks, you'll never feel ready.
I love what Wilbur Wright said when he was asked why do you and Orville personally try and fly the planes that you built. Just get a test pilot. You're risking your whole life. He said, look, there's two ways to learn to ride a horse, bucking Bronco. One way would be for you to sit and watch the horse buck. Study its movements from the fence. Write down everything it does and then go and find a comfortable chair and ponder all of these things. And then, and only when, you feel like you have formulated the proper plan of attack, then you approach the horse and begin to attempt to ride it. He said, the other way is just to get on that sucker and hold on for dear life. And that's what my brother and I are trying to do and that's why we ride the planes we build. He explaining that, in a further elaboration put it this way, "It is very much the same in learning to fly a flying machine; If you are looking for a perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial".
Loving the unlovable, you got to get on that sucker and ride. You'll never feel ready. Third, good news, it's impossible on your own strength but you don't have to rely on your own strength. That's the third and final thing you've got to know. It's impossible on your own strength, but you don't need to rely on your own strength. Because this chapter begins with an iron ax head floating. Oh, so we're not dealing with just strict possibilities here because so far as I can tell ax heads don't do the backstroke baby. Right? God made the iron float. When? When the tree was thrown in the river. When the tree branch was torn down and thrown in the river, then the iron floated. God's solution to every situation seems to be about the same. Throw a tree in it. Translation, the cross, the tree that Jesus was hung on for us has the ability to make the unfloatable all of a sudden unsinkable. This is Ephesians, this is what Paul said, we're going to close with this. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. How? Even as God in Christ forgave you.
And so Father, we ask today for you to help us get a grip. To get a grip on what you did for us. And it is out of the overflow of that we have to remember how to treat other people. And so we pray for you help. This is a hard message. There's a lot of messages I'd of rather preached today that would be far less convicting for me personally, but I believe this is how we change the world. It's these small little deaths to self. To show kindness to others out of compassion. Knowing we didn't deserve your favor. And so I pray your spirit would help us. If you're with me, and this is a hard message, but I want the ax head to float in my life, could you just raise up a hand to God just saying, God I want you to help me to love the unlovable. Because even sinners love those who love them. So thank you Jesus for your help. Thank you Jesus that were not in this on our own. Thank you Jesus for your power, mighty in us.
You can put your hands down. If you're here today and you haven't trusted Christ for salvation, today's the day. Now is the time. It's as simple as asking him to save you, asking him to be your friend, asking him to forgive you. You could do that right now in the quiet of this moment.
So Father I pray you'd bless us as we seek to be a blessing. We pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.