How Do We Show Kindness to Our Enemies?

It is not a sin to have enemies. Jesus had enemies. But it is a sin not to extend kindness to our enemies. 

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”

Maybe you are wrestling with the decision to be kind to your enemies. I want you to know up front, it will be a mixed bag. Some people will receive your kindness, and some will interpret it as a threat.

King David, a man after God’s own heart, had enemies too. He was a warrior for God and yet he had a softer side to him. David tries to show compassion to his adversaries. Some are willing to receive it, and some aren’t.

David decided in 2 Samuel 9 to show kindness to Mephibosheth, his archenemy King Saul’s grandson. He is now in charge. He doesn’t need the house of Saul. But instead of overlooking his enemy’s house, he lets go of the harshness he feels toward Saul and seeks to show kindness. David chose someone from his enemy’s house to show kindness to. Once he had identified a friend of his enemy he sought in 1 Samuel 9:7 to restore land to him and told him he could eat at his table always.

This is a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.”

Christ invited us to sit at his table while were still his enemies. Someone once said, “If Christ hadn’t died for his enemies, he would have had no one to die for.”

Christ restored eternal life to us.

When you think about your story do you see yourself as the enemy of your story or the hero? Do you realize that your acceptance of Christ is the acknowledgement that you are the enemy of your own story and Jesus is the hero? 

David continued his crusade to show the kindness of God to those who were his enemies in 2 Samuel 10. He picked, Hanun, the king of the Ammonites, but Hanan’s advisors told him that David’s kindness couldn’t be trusted. 

Did this happen to Jesus?

Yes, Judas.

Judas was with Jesus for three and a half years, but decided Jesus couldn’t be trusted. If Jesus had someone who misinterpreted his kindness, so will you. Judas chose to see Jesus’ kindness as a threat and thus he chose to see people’s kindness to Jesus as a waste. Jesus saw Judas as a friend. Judas saw Jesus as a threat.

So, when someone refuses to trust your kindness, do you take it back and decide it is not worth it? No, Jesus died for all. He was kind to all yet knew many would refuse like Judas. Once you show kindness, if someone rejects it, let them be who they are. 

You might say, “That seems so cruel. Shouldn’t we try and use our lives to get them to change?” Yes, but once they have made their decision about you, you have to let them be who they are. Jesus didn’t try to change Judas’ mind. He accepted who Judas was. Judas was a betrayer and no amount of kindness would change his mind. 

The Ammonites had a trust problem. They responded to David like Judas responded to Jesus. David was trying to be kind to his adversaries, but they refused to receive it. 

Because Hanun had a trust problem, he went on the attack toward David. 

What do you do when those you were trying to show kindness to try to destroy you and those you love? Do we remain passive and allow them to do it?

No, we have to protect those entrusted to us from our enemies. That’s what David did in 2 Samuel 10, and that is what Jesus told the disciples do in Luke 22:35 when he told them to sell their coats and buy swords. 

I want to address here the “turn the other cheek” motif. To turn the other cheek means to not retaliate when you are wronged. Jesus does not want us to retaliate, but he does want us to protect what he has entrusted to us. 

Jesus tells the disciples in Matthew 10:16 that he is sending them out as sheep among wolves, so to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. The Enemy will use your kindness to destroy those God has entrusted to you. The job of a shepherd is to protect the flock from the attacks of the Evil One. 

Your job as a follower of Jesus is protect those he has entrusted to you. That is what David did. When people are threatened by your kindness it is okay to defend what has been entrusted to you. Like a police officer facing a criminal with a weapon, it is okay to take the weapon out of their hand, but once you do you must return to peace. Once King David restored order with Hanun in 2 Samuel 10, he extended peace to him. 

What does that mean practically for us? It means, don’t hold a grudge once the threat has been resolved. Forgive and return to kindness as soon and as much as possible. 

Some of us are good at being kind, and some of us are good at establishing boundaries. We have to be committed to growing in both. May the Lord help us to continue to grow as we chase after a kind heart for our enemies.

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Kelly M. Williams
Kelly M. Williams

Kelly M. Williams is senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.