“Say you are out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move, make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.” (Matthew 5:25-26, MSG)
It clearly indicates in this verse who is in the wrong. Not our enemy, but ourselves. Our actions, especially the ones we aren’t too proud of, will eventually return to haunt us. We can continue to brood about how unfair this all is; yet as long as we consider some to be our enemies, we WILL face hardships. It’s way easier to set things right, even if someone else is at fault. Hatred will eventually become our downfall.
History tells us over and over again what can happen when we harbor hatred. Take, for example, the Crusaders. 1071 was catastrophic. The Seljuk Turks had conquered Jerusalem and defeated the Byzantine armies. 24 years later Pope Urban 2 declared: “An accursed race utterly alienated from God… Has invaded the land of the Christians and depopulated them by the sword, plundering and fire… Tear that land from the wicked race and subject it to yourselves. ” In other words, he saw these people in the Middle East as his cursed enemy and felt that they needed to be disposed of.
Many responded to that call, over 100,000, including 10,000 knights who joined the cause. What motivated these people? Some saw this as a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy City. Others were looking for adventure. Many hoped to acquire land and become rich through plundering. It most certainly helped that the pope promised that any of their actions would be forgiven, and that all of them would go straight to heaven.
Other than the fact that the Siljuk Turks were considered to be their enemies, none of these crusaders knew anything about them. What did they have to lose? They were assured to go to Heaven, and their crimes would be forgiven. Besides, this was their opportunity to become rich as well!
First the crusaders conquered Nicea and plundered its goods. Next, it was Antioch, and eventually Jerusalem. A monk named Fulcher wrote about the attack on Jerusalem. Once the Crusaders succeeded in climbing its walls, they cut down anyone in their path. The streets of Jerusalem ran ankle deep in blood. It didn’t matter who was massacred. Muslims, Jews and quite possibly Christians were all killed equally. Jerusalem was then ransacked. After all, the dead wouldn’t need their belongings any longer!
This is what can happen when we hold on to hatred, considering others to be our enemies. Where will it stop? Did these murderous Crusaders really reached heaven?
Looking into the past, can’t we say that it is far better to forgive and set things right? After all, doesn’t out Heavenly Father encourages us: “Do what is right; do what is good in God’s sight so you’ll live a good life…” (Deut 6:18, NIV)
Do you still consider having enemies? “Deus vult! God wills it!” Was the battle cry of the Crusaders. Is it possible that you have considered joining their ranks?
(To access the entire “Majestic Mountain View” devotional series, please click here.)