Having played baseball for many years, I was a part of a few rivalries that were heated, to say the least. To this day, there are teams and schools I struggle to like and tolerate. Sadly, I also find myself having disdain for those schools’ current players, even though I’ve never met them! They just wear the wrong uniform.
I’ve also noticed something else. Rivalries aren’t just between opposing teams. There are rivalries and enemies on the same team, in the same youth league, and even in the same family. We understand how to compete against another team, especially a rival. Take no prisoners etc. But, what about when the enemy or rival is someone close to you? That changes the game.
Proverbs 25:21-22 has something to say. “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (NASB).
There may be someone who is taking playing time you want. Someone who the coaches seem to like more than you. Another coach who has no clue what he’s doing but gets treated as if he does. What will you do?
- First, consider the kindness shown to you by Jesus Himself. We are born enemies of God because of our sin, but Jesus loved us and died for us.
- Second, look for ways to love your enemies, even in what you don’t do, say, or think.
- Third, man up and treat that enemy with dignity just because he is a person created by God. Refuse to dehumanize him and operate as if his existence is a mistake.
- Fourth, pray daily that the Holy Spirit would enable you to love that enemy or rival in a tangible way, just like what Proverbs 25 says.
This is not easy, but when you recognize the undeserved love given to you by Jesus, your enemies take a back seat to grace.
Here’s a prayer:
Lord Jesus, There are people I would rather hate than love. Please help me. Let me be overwhelmed by your love and grace and give those out to others. Thank you for your death that brings peace between me, your natural enemy, and you. Amen.