Who is my Enemy?

The killing of Osama Bin Laden earlier this week raised a few questions about enemies. In response to my assertion that we should love our enemies a friend of mine asked me this question:

Is there a difference between a personal enemy and a national enemy?

I responded saying that it depends on our definition of enemy. It is hard to relate to an enemy without a face.. maybe Bin Laden is simply the face of an enemy organization the way that Hitler was the face of Nazi Germany?

I think that the image to the left is a bit simplistic and one sided because it sees 'enemies' from one's own view - it is possible for me to love an enemy and still have an enemy.. some will always hate us no matter what we do.

How would you answer my friend's question?


  1. The only difference is on whom the enemy intends damage? In the one, it is a specific person, in the other a nation. I suppose there could be some that are both - like if you were President Obama facing possible terrorists of various factions who could be targeting you specifically as well as your nation in general.

    I grasp the idea of loving your enemies as having compassion for them. I may still have to fight them, but have I made an attempt to understand their hatred - even to the point of examining my own actions and beliefs that may have encouraged it and repented of those when necessary?

  2. Great response Missy! I love that second paragraph and the way that you relate loving our enemies with trying to understand them.

  3. Hi Bob,

    I startled my husband once by suggesting his (now former) manager was his enemy and he should pray for him. The thought of having a personal enemy who wasn't trying to kill him was a novel idea. In all honesty, E fit the qualifications when it came to the underhanded tactics he used to advance himself and which were also quite abusive to his workers. Needless to say, when E retired, no one wanted to host a going-away party, so it didn't happen.

    I'm with Missy on this one. I also vastly prefer mercy to vengance, although justice can look a lot like revenge sometimes. Is the difference a matter of the eye of the beholder?

    Hugs to you and Ann!

  4. Distinguishing between justice and vengeance is often hard, but I think a lot of it comes down to attitude. Am I trying to do the right thing or am I just trying to get my own back. I like Missy's idea that we need to have compassion and ask how we might have done to contribute to the situation about.

    As for national versus personal enemies I think the main difference is there is the welfare of other people involved. Also if I hold a position of responsibility, I may have obligations to those people. If someone is just my personal enemy it may be more appropriate for me to just back down in the situation and simply take a hit, then if I am responsible for the welfare of others.

  5. A shepherd may love all of God's creatures. But, if a wolf attacks and starts killing his sheep, that wolf is dead meat.

  6. Great comments all. I do think that the difference between justice and revenge is often the attitude and perspective of one's heart.


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