Treatment of Enemies (1)
Pastor Jack Hyles
A Sermon Preached on a Sunday Evening at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.
Mark 8:27-33, "And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ. And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him. And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men."
Matthew 26:47-50, "And while He yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He: hold Him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and saith, Hail, master; and kissed Him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took Him."
To My Enemies of Forty Years
"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:41-48)
Tonight I want to speak on a very unusual subject. I want to speak on the subject, "To My Enemies of Forty Years." I want you to think of your enemies as I think of those people who for forty years have come and gone and been enemies of this preacher.
"Our Heavenly Father, I pray tonight You would help us to enter into New Testament Christianity. Help us to be Christians in the New Testament sense. Give us, I pray, the attention of all the people tonight. Amen."
Tonight I would like to address a group of people that are scattered across many miles, people I'm sure some of whom live in every state of the union. Tonight I would like to address a group of people who are not only scattered across many miles but across many years. Forty years as a preacher of the Gospel I have lived with the awareness that some people hate me. I have lived with the awareness that this hatred is nationwide and almost in every state of the union. Tonight I would like to address those who are my enemies, not those who are in this room. No preacher has more people who are kind and gracious to him than I do! I do not feel at all that the people in this room need what I am going to say, but I was in east Texas recently, and I got to thinking while I was there for a couple of days about my young ministry and I got to thinking about some of the people in east Texas who are my enemies. As I flew into the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, I got to looking down and thinking of people in the great Dallas-Fort Worth area who were my enemies. Tonight I would like to address all of those people who for forty years have been my enemies. Some will hear me from Heaven. Others will hear me on tape as they hear this sermon played. Still others will hear by word of mouth, and maybe perchance, there are some in this room tonight.
What I will say tonight can be summarized by these words: I thank God for my enemies! I thank God for those who for all these years have been my enemies. No, I do not say that I enjoy having enemies, and I think it is easier thanking God for my friends, and I do thank God for my friends. No one has been blessed with as many close, dear precious friends as this preacher. Nobody has ever pastored a church of people who are more thoughtful than are the people of this church, and no preacher ever hears the words, "I love you," or reads the words, "I love you," more than I do. No preacher has a finer group of people.
Not only do I have many wonderful friends in this church, but all over America and all over the world God has given me a group of people who love me and who are my friends. Almost everywhere I go people say, "Look at all that hair!" and words of affection and "hurt." Almost everywhere I go, people walk up and say, "Show us your muscle," and some even say, "Reverend Boopsie-Woopsie!" It is almost cultish. I mean by that, there is almost a loyalty around the nation of literally hundreds of thousands of people to this church. This church is the headquarters of fundamentalism in America. I mean old-fashioned, Hell-fire and brimstone, rock-rib, black-is-black, white-is-white, the Bible is the Word of God, "Ye must be born again," separated- from-the-world fundamentalism! This church is the headquarters of it in this nation. No doubt about it! People look to us. I thank God tonight, not only for the dear friends that I have here for whom and with whom I have labored these many years, but I thank God tonight for that great legion of friends all over the nation and around the world.
Tonight, however, I want to turn from that crowd of loyal people who love me. I want to thank God tonight for another group of people. I want to thank God for my enemies for these forty years. I speak to you as a group, you in Heaven, and I think there are a few of you who didn't quite make it! I thank God tonight for my enemies. Now I speak to all of you, both to you who hear me from Heaven, to you who hear me on tape and perchance to you who hear me in this room tonight, though I do not know who you are.
At first you surprised me. I did not know in those early days that you existed. I wasn't expecting you. I'll be quite frank with you, when I entered the ministry I did not know that preachers had enemies. I was a young man. I was naive. I remember when the first of you came to me in east Texas, I did not know how to react. I did not know the Scriptures, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." "If any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also." I did not know these Scriptures. I'll be quite frank with you. In those early days I did not know the Scriptural way to react to you, my enemies. I'm afraid in those early days I often fought you back, and I'm sorry. I'm afraid in those early days I even preached against you from the pulpit, and I'm sorry. I'm afraid in those early days I did not turn the other cheek, and I'm sorry. I'm afraid in those early days I did not bless you when you cursed me, and I'm sorry. I'm afraid in those early days I did not love you when you hated me, and I'm sorry. I'm afraid in those early days I did not pray for you when you despitefully used me, and I'm sorry.
The other day I was asked at a question answer session, "Dr. Hyles, if you had your life to live over again, can you think of any changes you'd make?"
I said quickly, "Yes, I can think of one. If I had my life to live over again I'd like to take back some of the things I said to my enemies many years ago. I would like to take back some of the things I did to my enemies many years ago. If I had my life to live over, I would like to live over some of those days when I did not know that the Bible teaches me to love those that hate me, to do good to those that do evil to me, to bless those that curse me, and to pray for those that despitefully use me. If I had my life to live over, I'd like to live over the early days of my ministry when I retaliated, when I sought revenge. I was sincere; God knows that I was, but I did not understand it, and so I'd like to say this tonight to my enemies of over 40 years of my ministry: I have not always enjoyed you, but tonight I thank God for you.
Thank you for hating me, for had you not hated me I could never have obeyed God's command to love those that hate me. Thank you for cursing me, for had you not cursed me I could not have obeyed the command of God to bless those that curse me. Thank you for despitefully using me, for had you not despitefully used me, I could not have prayed for those who despitefully use me. Thank you for smiting me, my enemies, for had you not smitten me, I could not have turned the other cheek. Thank you for taking my coat, for had you not taken my coat I could not have heeded the admonition of the Scripture, "If any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also." Thank you for making me go a mile, for had you not forced me to go a mile, I could not have gone two miles with you. May I say this. That is what I've done for 24 years. I have not always turned the other cheek, but I have for 24 years. I have not always blessed those that curse me, but I have for 24 years. I have not always loved those that hated me, but I have for 24 years. I am not lying to you. I'd rather die now than lie behind the sacred desk. I may sometimes tell you something that's not true, but not to my knowledge. I would rather die tonight than to stand behind this pulpit and tell you something that isn't true. I say this tonight with one hand on this Book and my heart laid bare, for 24 years I have not had bitterness in my heart toward anybody. For 24 years I have not hated anybody. For 24 years I have tried to love those that hate me, I have prayed for those that despitefully use me, and I have blessed those that curse me. I do not claim to have apprehended. I do not claim even to be a good Christian, but I do say this: On my face in a little hospital room in Dyer, Indiana, when our little girl Linda was at the brink of death, I got on my knees and I promised God that I would love my enemies from that day until this.
Tonight I want to thank my enemies. I want to thank God for you because you have caused me to have the opportunity to obey the command of my Lord in my relationship with you. I'm sorry that before 24 years ago I often smote you back. I'm sorry that before 24 years ago I maybe wanted to smite you back. I'm sorry for the six months of bitterness I had toward you when I was about 30 years of age. In one of the darkest hours of my life when I thought my ministry was gone, I became bitter, and for six months of my life bitterness filled my soul when I was about 30 years of age. I apologize tonight to my enemies for allowing bitterness to come into my heart, because if I'm bitter toward you, it is not you who loses; it is I who lose! If I shoot you, the bullet boomerangs and hits me also. I am sorry that on occasion when you hated me, I hated you. I am sorry that on occasion when you wronged me, I wronged you. I am sorry that on occasion when you did me evil, I did you evil back.
From the moment 24 years ago I knelt in Dyer Mercy Hospital on the third floor of a little dark hospital room and said, "Dear God, take this bitterness out of my heart," until this moment, I have never harbored bitterness in my heart toward anybody, and there is not a human who lives tonight, not a one, but if he stabs me in the breast I'll take the knife and give it back to him and buy him a new knife if he needs it. There is not a man in this world whom I wouldn't feed tonight if he were hungry. There is not a person living tonight whom I would not clothe if he were naked. There is not a person living tonight whom I would not help if he needed help.
I'm simply saying tonight, thank God for my enemies, for I would not have known to love you if I had not had you. I could not have turned the other cheek had you not smitten one. I could not have blessed you had you not cursed me. There is no preacher alive who is criticized more than I am. I do not know why Maybe it's because of the size of the church; I do not know why. I refuse tonight to live with revenge in my heart. I refuse tonight to live with vengeance in my soul. I refuse tonight to curse those that curse me and hate those that hate me. I refuse! I cannot make you love me, but you cannot keep me from loving you. I wish I could show you my heart. I often feel when I am preaching around the country that I would like to take this little pocket knife which I always carry (I'm a Switchblader from Hammond City Baptist High School) and cut my heart open and let you see it. You would find a heart of love. That's the truth. My sword is sheathed. My tongue is bridled. My guns are stacked. My arsenal is empty. My quiver is bare.
I speak to my enemies all over the world tonight. I cannot criticize you, and I will not knowingly hurt you. If I had David's sword at the cave where thou art sleeping, I would not smite thee. In these 24 years I have not allowed others to speak ill of thee in my presence. I have not asked my friends to shun thee. I desire my friends to be your friends, even though you are my enemy I do not say that you are all bad because you are my enemies. No doubt I have on occasion deserved you. Perhaps I have left the wrong impression at times, or perhaps you did not totally understand. And though I have never wanted you to be my enemy, I have always needed you. Without thee, I would not have known God as well. You have allowed me to spend more time with Him and for us to get to know each other better. You have taught me to love those that hate me. Thank you for teaching me. You have taught me to pray for those that despitefully use me. You have taught me to bless those that curse me. Thank you for making it possible. I am grateful. Though I have not totally been able to rejoice and be exceeding glad as I am commanded to in the Scriptures, I am grateful, and I love you.
If you desire an enemy, you must look elsewhere. If you desire a fight, I will not oblige you. If you hate me, I will love you back, and you can't keep me from it! You curse me, and I will bless you back, and you can't keep me from it. You take my coat, and I'll give you my cloke, and you can't keep me from it. You smite me, and I'll turn the other cheek, and you can't keep me from it.
You say, Preacher, how is this possible? How is it possible for you to speak to hordes of enemies over 40 years around the world and say to people that hate you, "I love you"? How could you say to people that curse you, "I'll bless you"? How could you say to people who despitefully use you, "I'll pray for you"? How could you say to people who have smitten your cheek, "I'll turn the other cheek"? How could you sheathe your sword and stack your arms and bridle your tongue and empty your arsenal and bare your quiver? How could you do it?
This is how. You see, I once did evil to a Man myself. I once took a hammer and drove nails into a Man's hands. You have not done to me what I've done to a Man. I once said, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" I once delivered Him to the hands of an angry mob. I once placed the kiss of betrayal on His brow. I once stood and warmed my feet by the fire and followed from afar as they took the lovely Lord away to Calvary. I took the cat-o'-nine tails in my hand and beat His back beyond recognition. I joined the crowd that said, "Release Barabbas! Release Barabbas! Crucify Jesus! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" My voice joined that crowd, and my sin put Him naked at the mercy of the scourges. I held the coats of those who nailed His hands and feet to the cross. I put nails in His hands. I put nails in His feet. I put a crown of thorns on His brow. I put a spear in His side. I mocked Him, treated Him as a mock king and put a sign over Him that said, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS!" I did it, and while I did it, He opened His mouth and said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
If He Who knew no sin could forgive me who is sin, I can forgive you, my brother sinner. If He Whose feet never walked a crooked path, Whose mind never had an evil thought, Whose hands never did an evil deed, Whose heart never had an evil motive, Whose lips never spoke an evil word, if He after I have crucified Him could say, "Father forgive him, he knows not what he does," I do not understand to save my life why those of us sinners saved by His grace have to harbor ill will toward each other.
But He did more than that! He forgave me, and He justified me! He pronounced me as if I had never sinned, and though I was a part and parcel in crucifying Him, and though these hands drove nails in His and though this tongue and this sin from body, life, heart and mind put Him on the cross, not only did He forgive me, but when I trusted Him, He erased from His judicial record in glory every sin I ever committed!
"I'm justified! I'm happy in Jesus today.
The sins I've committed, they're all in the past;
They've all been forgiven, and He holds me fast!
I'm justified! I'm justified!
I'm happy in Jesus today."
That isn't all He did! Not only did He forgive me, and not only did He justify me, but He saved me! He wrote my name in the Book of Life! He delivered me from the fires of Hell! Tonight He is preparing a home in the Gloryland, where I can live forever, not because I am righteous, for I am not! I am unrighteous! I'm a sinner saved by His grace, forgiven by His love, justified by His justice, saved by His mercy, redeemed by His blood, indwelt by His Spirit, led by His Word, saved by His Son and headed for Heaven by His amazing grace! I didn't deserve a bit of it! You are looking tonight at a man who deserves to go to Hell. I am looking at thousands of folks tonight who deserve to bum in Hell. I don't understand it. If He could forgive us after all we've done to Him, then we ought to forgive each other for what mistakes others have made toward us.
I always wanted to go to the Holy Land. (Not many folks want to go now they're chicken!) I always wanted to go to the place where they took His little body and wrapped it in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. I always wanted to go to the place where He knelt and prayed on the mountain. I always wanted to go to the place where He was baptized in Jordan. I always wanted to go to the place where He turned the water into wine. I always wanted to go to the place where He fed the 5,000. I always wanted to go to the place where He was tried wrongly in Pilate's Hall. I always wanted to go to the place where He was crucified--Calvary! I always wanted to see the empty tomb! (I did see, and the tomb is empty!) I always wanted to go. I dreamed of going. Finally one year we got to go. We went the first time with a Bob Jones tour. There were about 23 of us, I think, on the tour. We stopped in Paris, but I wanted to see Calvary. We stopped in Rome, but I wanted to see Calvary. We stopped in Greece, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the Parthenon, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw Corinth, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the Coliseum, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the catacombs, but I wanted to see Calvary. We went to Egypt and saw the pyramids, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the tombs of the kings, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the museum of Egypt with King Tut's possessions displayed, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the sphinx, but I wanted to see Calvary. We went to the Promised Land. I walked one day where Jesus walked. We saw the place where He was baptized, and I baptized several people in the Jordan River while a crowd on the bank sang, "On Jordan's stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye, to Canaan's fair and happy land where my possessions lie." We went to the Sea of Galilee. We saw that hill where He preached His sermon to the 5,000 and multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed them miraculously. We saw the synagogue in Capernaum, where Peter attended when he was growing up. We went to Bethlehem and sang, "0 little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!"
Then one day we went to Calvary! It is a little place. There is a bus station now at the bottom of that little hill, but there was none there then. It is a hill that looks just like a face. It is sort of an embankment. It is not very high. I do not think it is as high as this auditorium. On top there is a cemetery. There are layers of stone, and you can see two places that probably represent sunken eyes and a place that looks like a mouth and the place above the eyes that looks like the place of a skull. We knelt. I had always dreamed of kneeling there.
I had sung as a child, "Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary." I had sung, "On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame." I had sung, "At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away," and finally I was there! I looked at Calvary, weeping uncontrollably! People left, but I couldn't leave! I was there alone! All of our crowd had gone back and gotten on the bus, but I couldn't go! That is where it happened! That is where my sin debt was paid! That is where my Saviour died! That's it! I began to sing and cry and cry and sing!
I can still see Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., coming back a little upset with me. He said, "Dr. Hyles, we've got to go! Everyone is waiting on you!"
I said, "I can't go yet! I can't go yet!"
I told that story once, and someone asked me what I was thinking about as I looked at Calvary. This is what I said: "I thought, 'If He could do that for me, I don't ever want to hate anybody again as long as I live! I don't ever want to speak unkindly about anybody as long as I live!' "
Ladies and gentlemen, you have enemies like I have. There are those who would do you ill, and those who have and will try to do you ill, but my Bible tells me to love them, and your Bible tells you to love them. My Bible tells me to bless them, and your Bible tells you to bless them. My Bible tells me to pray for them, and your Bible tells you to pray for them.
I wish tonight every person in this room could lie down to rest and sing, "Nothing between my soul and the Saviour, naught of this world's delusive dream."
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