What is enmity?
Also known as tribalism, discord, strife, dissensions, and divisions, enmity is a large problem for nations, politics, and churches. Every group feels justified in demonizing any group that disagrees with them, but faulty human reasoning is not the real problem (Ephesians 6:12). In 1960, a poll said 96% of Americans would accept their child marrying outside of their political party. As of 2018, the number averages 60%.
Enmity is the feeling of antagonism.
Enmity (Galatians 5:20) is that feeling of hatred or negativity towards a person or group (Proverbs 10:12) that makes it seem like you are against them instead of the devil (Ephesians 6:12). Enmity combats loving an enemy who is trying to silence and kill you like you would love your own son (Luke 6:27). Enmity is a tactic used by Satan to cause 2 groups who support good things, such as Protestants and Catholics or Republicans and Democrats, to turn on each other (Proverbs 6:19). Ultimately, enmity makes you feel like the hero while the enemy is the villain (Romans 3:23).
Enmity’s root is fear.
Oftentimes, someone else promoting a belief we disagree with causes us intense personal pain, but why? The following is an analysis of enmity, starting from the deepest root to what it leads to.
- Fear of Punishment–The deepest root is because the person doesn’t know the love of God, it causes him to fear pain, which is always about fearing punishment (I John 4:18).
- Works-based Gospel–We think we need the stability of the correctness of our group’s tradition (Mark 7:8-9) so God doesn’t punish us, but justification is based in grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). If it turns out we were wrong, we think God will punish us, and everything we did in our life so far was in vain, but God is forgiving (I John 1:9).
- False Responsibility–Because we wrongly think justification is based on works, we fear that if we don’t confidently correct other groups, our nation or religion will grow weaker, but only God has that power (Job 12:23), and we are commanded to avoid these vain discussions and teach with knowledge (I Timothy 1:6-7).
- Anger, Enmity, Hatred, and Strife–When we eventually fail, we get envious of others’ success (James 4:1-2), causing irrational anger (James 1:19-20) at those who “clearly don’t understand me,” but God calls us to understand them first (Proverbs 12:15). What ensues is enmity (Galatians 5:20): a hostile feeling of hatred that leads to strife (Proverbs 10:12).
- Dishonesty and Arrogance–Strife is what we see when groups disagree. Half of people become love-focused, being dishonest about the truth because it appears to get in the way of feeling loved. The other half become truth-focused, arrogantly shouting their opinions because they were not treated justly. (Ephesians 4:14-15).
Enmity is solved by teaching and being taught.
Patiently teach others (II Timothy 4:2) with gentleness and not just your opinions (II Timothy 2:24-25). First, honestly assess if you are the problem (Galatians 6:1) by determining which group or person causes you to feel hateful, for you cannot be a teacher of light if you’re still in darkness (I John 2:11). If you decide to teach others, then it’s only logical that you need to learn yourself (Proverbs 12:15). Confidence doesn’t come from making strong assertions but by having compassion on all people (I Timothy 1:6-7).
My anger is justified because of their sin.
God says to refrain and remove anger (Psalms 37:8; Ephesians 4:31) because unlike God who knows everything (Mark 3:5), we don’t. Compassion is about realizing we don’t understand their pain well enough yet (I Corinthians 8:2); for if we did, we wouldn’t be angry at them in the same way we are gentler with our own sins due to our suffering (Hebrews 2:18).