As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good ... (Gen. 50:20a)
Nope, I am not praising "Antithesis", and I am not out of my mind. However, I would like to take the opportunity to thank God for this thorn in the flesh.
In our struggle against the flesh and the world, nothing ever comes close to practically surfacing the sinful desires of the flesh than trials and tribulations, especially when others wrong us and slander us without cause and without truth. What shall we do then? We can attempt to fight fire with fire, and attack those who attack us even more harshly and vociferously. After all, don't we all have a right to protect ourselves and defend our reputations? Since the truth is on our side, victory is all but assured and we can thus steamroll all opposition, can't we?
To tackle this question, we must look at what the Scripture teaches about the topic. The problem with the above approach is that it is not biblical. Rather, it is written:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 1:14-21)
The biblical approach to dealing with our enemies is to bless them, and help them even. We are to overcome evil with good, and not be overcome by it.
Now, of course all of this can be easily seen, but how can we work this out in our own lives in *real* situations? Scriptures tell us that vengeance belongs to the Lord, and this should satisfy our desire for justice. Those who wrong us God will judge and pay back in time, for God as the supreme judge will ensure that justice will be done either now or in the judgment to come. Our role in this regard is rather to bless our enemies not merely because Scripture commands us to, or even as a sort of perverse way to get back at them (since it is promised that our good deeds will pour burning coals on their head) but rather to do it for Christ's sake. Christ died for the ungodly, so why can't we at least bless our enemies?
This is not to suggest that we must all be doormats who can be pushed around. Enemies who we are to bless and aid are still in the class of enemies. Nowhere is it suggested that we should treat them as friends or give them what they want. Rather, Scripture informs us of the attitude we should have towards them, while not eradicating the emnity that still exists.
It is in this regard that I strive to have a desire for AT's good. He as a Neo-Orthodox heretic is not saved. Yet, to desire for his good means to desire for his salvation from his vain way of life. Seen in this light, I pity him. His emptiness has generated only hatred in him which he spews at people like me who proclaim the truth. He has nothing to offer; no Gospel to save him from his sins and he is on the road to perdition. What he needs more than anything else is salvation.
In another light, it is written:
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:7-11)
God is sovereign over all of Creation. If He so desires to, AT would be dead now. Yet, God in His providence has allowed AT to continue his maniac attacks and rants.
As Gen. 50:20 states, what men planned for evil, God planned it for good. It is for this reason that God ought to be praised. Through AT, whatever things that can be used against me has been dug out somehow, thus showing me my weak spots. Although all of AT's commentaries are outright lies, yet because he is by nature an enemy, he would endeavor to collect as much dirt as possible to smear my reputation. In this regard, I am thankful for how little he can actually find, thus requiring the manufacture of entire sets of lies in order to malign my character. From the little he found, plus the hypocritical attacks on my "judging" others (like he is not judging me), it has helped me to see my blind spots so as to correct them. Of course, I do not visit that place much as it is dedicated to slandering me on all fronts possible. Yet, for the good that God has intended, I am thankful.
As for reputations, let God do the fighting on our behalf. I do not even need to do anything in this regard, since the overwhelming response from those not in AT and his gang has been negative, with nobody changing sides so to speak. But whatever happens, the main thing we should remember is that faithfulness to God and His Word counts more than our reputations. Jeremiah's reputation wasn't very great in his entire life time, and he was imprisoned many times for the truth. We should care less about our own reputations and more about the honor of God's name. Rather that we be despised by the world than for God to be dishonored.
In conclusion, in our dealings with the enemy, let us seek their ultimate good and not their destruction. Justice will be meted out in the end, but our role is not to judge but to show mercy. God will judge in the end, and His judgment will be perfectly just according to the sins committed. May we learn therefore how to desire the ultimate good for our enemies. Amen.