Remember Who is the REAL Enemy!It's easy to slip into an unenlightened way of thinking about people. Maybe there's that guy at work who seems to have it in for you and is always trying to make you look bad. Maybe there's that nosy neighbor who is always getting up in your business. Maybe there's that lady at church who's always gossiping about you... They're difficult people! We've all got them in our lives. But if we start thinking that such and such a person is our enemy - they are the real problem - we've lost sight of the real enemy, losing our ability to respond effectively as a result.
Scripture tells us that we're never up against people. When people demonstrate unlovely attitudes and behaviors towards us, they are not operating under the power of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. The Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are always present in a life where God is on the heart-throne. This is why the Bible tells us that "by their fruits we will know them" (Matthew 7:20). It doesn't mean that we'll be able to identify "bad" people by their lack of the Fruits of the Spirit. Rather, we'll be able to identify evil spirits at work in the lives of the people.
Being able to discern the spirits at work in someone's life is vitally important - not so we can judge that person and become embittered against them - but so we can effectively pray for them.
But our ability to pray for someone who is hampered - and maybe even lost entirely - when we react against the person who has done something offensive against us. As soon as we start "hating on" another or thinking in a bitter way about them, we have lost our spiritual potency. The devil already had his hand on this offending person, which is obvious from the un-Christ-like way they're treating us. But if you react in an un-Christ-like manner against the offensive person, the devil gets two for one. He has effectively used them to get you!
So how can you keep this from happening? The first key is remembering who your enemy really is. You can kind of feel sorry for the person who is acting so horribly when you realize that somehow the spirits of darkness have gotten the driver's seat in his or her life. And when you see this reality, you'll be ready to do what you need to do for them - you'll be ready to pray. As you do this, the enemy will not be able to use the person to get ground in your soul - and the enemy will start to lose his ground in the offender's life as well. Now that's a great two-for-one deal - on the side of God!