There is a very old song (my parents generation so we’re talking a really long time ago), called Goody, Goody sung by several different artists including Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. It a song about someone getting what they deserved. The refrain goes like this:
“Hurray and Hallelujah, you had it coming to you. Goody, goody for her, goody goody for me I hope you’re satisfied, you rascal you.” Now I always thought the words, instead of I Hope You’re Satisfied, were, You Got What You Deserved.” When I went to verify it, I found the correct wording, but it really doesn’t change the message of the song at all. The original lyrics were much more polite than my assumed lyrics. Its still all about the jilted lover rejoicing over the heartache her ex-boyfriend is now suffering, just like she suffered. Sounds like a very justified emotion don’t you think? I don’t know about you but I have been guilty of feeling that way once or twice in the past.
However, the Bible tells us those feelings are not what God expects from us. Instead of rejoicing over their misery we are supposed to love them and pray for them. I recently heard a sermon where the Pastor said much to the effect of, we should pray that we will see them in Heaven. Now that’s a powerful request. Do I really want to see certain people in Heaven? And if not, why not? Was their alleged crime against me so bad I would wish them thrown into outer darkness, for ever? Seems a little harsh doesn’t it?
The Bible says we should not rejoice when our enemy falls, see Proverbs 24:18 “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls. And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” Which I always thought meant you just don’t have a party over it, but you can feel “justified, as in he got what he deserved.” Wrong! If you look at Matthew 5:44 which very plainly states, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Wow! Really? Yes really. You know what happens when you pray for those enemies, you are blessed. Seems counter-intuitive, but it happens just the same. Actually praying for those who persecute you allows to you release all of the negative feelings involved in disliking someone. The more you pray, the happier you become. Now that is not the reason we are supposed to pray for them, but it is a by-product of that prayer.
I have become very intentional in praying for my enemies. I pray for people from my past, I pray for people in my present and I pray for those groups of people so full of hatred they are willing to take drastic measures to destroy us. As a Christian, our enemies are not always just people. Our enemies become concepts or beliefs held by others. We are attacked and maligned for our beliefs, but told we must accept and tolerate every one else’s beliefs. If we don’t we are labeled intolerant and narrow minded. I think the only thing narrow is the road to Heaven. Matthew 7:13 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Part of the problem is that Christianity doesn’t fit into today’s culture. The Bible holds to certain absolute truths. In today’s culture truth is situational and individual. And I just don’t understand that at all. Just because someone chooses to “believe” that the moon is made of green cheese, doesn’t make it true. And conversely, just because I believe what the Bible has to say about sin and its consequences does not make me anyone’s enemy. It is not I, who will be judging anyone for we are told distinctly, in many verses, that judgment is not ours. I like the way Luke 6:37 says it best. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven.”
The point is that when we pray for our enemies, and if they repent, they will no longer be our enemies. So we probably will see them in Heaven. Now I know its easier to just believe they will not enter Heaven and think, well they got what they deserved. I can tell you I fervently praise God and thank him that I have not gotten what I deserve. My life was a mess for a long time, but instead of turning his back on me, God loved me back into his arms. And he can do that for our enemies also. So you see it is the Lord God himself who will judge each and every one of us. And he is an amazingly forgiving God. So don’t think you know what he’s going to decide for each person. That person you so smugly thought you would never see in Heaven, just might be the one greeting you at gates.