Treatment of Your Friends' Enemies
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 8 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How to Treat Different Types of Church members)
Let it be established first, however, that kindness should be exerted to everybody, but let it also be established that though we are not to defend ourselves when attacked, we are, however, to defend our friends when they are attacked. This is to be done only in defense of our friends.
1. You will not criticize my friend in my presence. In fact, I will ask you not to be critical at all in my presence, but I definitely will not remain with you if you are criticizing my friend. I will ask you to cease the criticism, or I will remove myself from your presence.
Several years ago I was sharing a taxicab with a well known preacher who began to criticize my friend, John R. Rice. Immediately I asked the taxi driver to stop, and in plain words I defended my friend and warned his attacker.
I was prevailed upon in a southern city to eat out after a service one night. The pastor, the other guest speaker, the guest soloist, two of my friends and I were sitting around the table when suddenly the singer spoke an unkind word about one of my friends who was not present. Immediately I said, "That isn't so! You are talking about my friend, and he isn't that kind of a person, and I will not sit here and listen to you attack him!" I will not retaliate if you attack me, but I will not allow you in my presence to attack those whom I love.
2. I will not socialize with the enemies of my friends. I will not be unkind to them as long as they sheathe their swords, but I will not socialize with them. I will feed them if they are hungry; I will clothe them if they are cold; I will put shoes on their bare feet, but I will not socialize with them. I do not require my friends to follow the same policy, nor do I ask my friends to assume my enemies, but my in-evocable policy is to love those who are enemies to my friends, to help them if they need help, but not to enter into a social time with them.
For many years Dr. John Rice and I traveled often together. We shared pulpits across America at least once a month, sometimes twice a month, and on rare occasions three or four times a month. I was his friend.
For a number of years we had preached together at the same church. Then the time came when the pastor made an attack against Dr. Rice. The pastor was a good man and his attack was not vicious, but nevertheless, it was an attack. Dr. Rice was no longer welcome to preach in his pulpit. Because of this, I refused to return to that church when I was invited the next time. The pastor asked for my reason. I explained to him that John Rice is my friend, and that if he did not choose to have John Rice, I would still come; but when he chooses to attack John Rice and then decide not to have him again, I would not come. I explained to him that this policy would be in effect until such time when he would have Dr. Rice and me come back together for a meeting. To the credit of that good man, not many months passed until he realized what he should do. He wrote me and told me that he would have Dr. Rice to return. Dr. Rice and I did return to his church and preach together again. From that day until the day that John Rice went to Heaven, he and this pastor were dear friends. Now I never chose to fight this beloved pastor, nor did I explain to anyone anywhere the position that I was taking. I certainly did not become his enemy; I just simply could not preach in his pulpit until his attack against my friend was withdrawn and reconciliation was sought. If, during this time, this dear pastor would have had a need of which I knew, I would have been among the first to come to his side, but I would not have socialized with him because I wanted my friendship to be obvious to my friend.
Maybe Peter was right when he rose to the defense of Jesus at the time of betrayal, and certainly Jesus was right when he replaced the ear of his enemy.
Several years ago one of our parking lot attendants was helping park cars in the church parking lot. It was the evening of the Hammond Baptist High School commencement exercises. A guest got out of his car and, while walking past the attendant, cursed me. My parking lot attendant instinctively "decked" the man. Now I told my friend that he shouldn't have done what he did, but under my breath I couldn't help but smile a bit not because I wanted someone hurt, but because I appreciated the zeal of my friend in defending his pastor, even though his zeal was perhaps somewhat misguided.
Maybe Abishai was right when he drew his sword in defense of his friend King David, and certainly David was right when he told Abishai to sheathe his sword.
3. When both the attacker and the attacked are my friends and I am theirs, I defend the accused. Jonathan was certainly a loyal son to his father, King Saul. He was likewise a loyal friend to David. When King Saul attacked David, Jonathan was not defending David against Saul; he was defending the attacked. I have no doubt in my mind but that had David attacked Saul, Jonathan would have defended Saul as quickly as he defended David when Saul had attacked him.
I have many wonderful staff members, and have had many wonderful people work for me through these 40 years of pastoring. Occasionally, however, one of my staff members will become critical of another staff member. I always defend the one who is the accused. I do not know if the accused has done what the accuser said he did, so I do not know of the innocence or guilt of the accused. However, I DO know of the guilt of the accuser, because it is wrong to accuse.
I was preaching on the subject of false accusations. During the message I reminded my people that if they falsely accuse someone, they are doing the work of the Devil, because he is a false accuser, when suddenly a truth hit me of which I had never thought before! The Devil is not a false accuser; he is a true accuser! He accuses me to God and tells Him of my weaknesses, and what he says is true. So, when I enter into true accusation, I am wrong and I am entering into the work of the evil one.
I was in a hotel room with two of my preacher friends, both are well known, famous preachers. They asked me if I had heard rumors about a certain preacher who also was well known and famous. I immediately answered that I had not heard such rumors and that I would not listen to them, and I defended the absent brother vigorously To the credit of the two men who were being critical, they both apologized and admitted that their words were unwise, and they vowed not to speak them again.
I was in a certain city preaching. As soon as the pastor and I got in the car to leave the airport, he began to tell me of a friend who had gone astray. Before he could tell me what had happened, I requested that he refrain from doing so. He insisted on telling me. I asked him then to stop the car and let me out. I told him that I was going to take the next plane right back to Chicago, and that I was not going to listen to criticism of my friend.
Quite often when I am preaching somewhere, a layman in the church will approach me about his pastor. Not only do I defend the pastor, but I will not listen to the criticism.
In summary, I am not to fight my enemy; I am to love him, pray for him, bless him and do good to him. I will assume my friends' enemies, though I will not require them to do the same to mine. If the accused is my friend and the accuser is my friend, and I am the friend of both, I will defend the accused. I will not socialize with enemies of my friends, though I will be unkind to no one.
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