It seems counterproductive, doesn't it? Why would someone love one's enemies? And why should we add strength to tyranny? The Lord showed me the reasoning behind this in a powerful manner that I doubt I will ever forget. Some years ago I got to know some people in a certain group and saw them frequently due to some similar activities we attended. They were mostly kind and welcoming and I was grateful to God to see such goodness in people. It did my heart good to know them. But there was one exception to this friendly crew - a woman whose name I will not disclose. She cooled these people from being overly friendly to me, and through her influence in part the beautiful friendship I might have had crumbled into dust and caused me much heartache and many bitter tears. I heard her at one point inciting those mutual friends to mock me within my hearing. When she spoke to me it was icy and condescending and with a superior smirk on her very beautiful face, for she was a tremendously good looking lady. You couldn't help but notice it. And I think that is one reason she had so much influence.
Now, you may consider this weakness in me, but I believed that she was indeed more beautiful than I, more socially lovely and generally superior in this her social realm. I was the relatively shy newcomer to this crowd. I believed this so much that though I hated what she did I didn't take offense to it. I assumed it was her right to treat me like a bug she could squish under her heel. I didn't like it, but I didn't fight her or treat her with anything save respect. Some weeks ago, as I took my children to the zoo I ran into this woman. We were both startled to see each other and as our business took us to the same place we cordially greeted each other and stood in the same area. Soon I heard her talking to one of her friends and I could tell they were making fun of another woman standing a few yards away and twittering with laughter like so many birds. Then the impression came to me "She looks particularly beautiful today and you know it. Compliment her." I confess I thought at first, "but she is so hardened and mean. Surely it would only make her behave worse." Again the impression came to compliment her. Obediently, I stood to my full height, squared my shoulders and nonchalantly, as though discussing the weather, said "You look lovely today." She literally began stammering. I ignored this and swept forward with, "but then you always look so gorgeous, so it's par for the course, really." I said nothing but the truth. She looked down and muttered, "no I don't." It wasn't a modest, blushing, smiling, kind of looking down and for one instant I could see in her face and hear in her voice that she bitterly and miserably meant every word she said and that it had long agonized her soul. I kept my calm countenance and walked away as though I had noticed nothing.
But certainly I found in that moment a truth that most of us take by faith but don't really see on a daily basis. Those who go out of their way to injure others who have done them no harm are truly the most miserable. I wonder now if she behaved toward me as she did because she felt threatened by how much her friends had begun to like me, for indeed I was fast becoming a favorite until she intervened. I wonder now if she thought I was more attractive than her and felt she needed to destroy what she perceived as a threat to her fragile ego. Love them, my friends, for they need it most profoundly. Granted, compliments are not always what is needful. We may have to walk away or distance ourselves from people we cannot immediately help, or sometimes have to engage in tough love for another's good, but remember that the center of all we do regarding others must be true and vibrant love.