I’m Not Your Enemy
Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? Galatians 4:16
“We’re trying to get you the help you obviously need.” Those are the words that someone spoke to me in the throes of my addiction. It was true and it needed to be said . . . but I hated the one who said it. Yes, I knew I had a problem, and yes, I knew something needed to change, but I wanted to do it with as little disruption to my life as possible. I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want to go to treatment, and I certainly didn’t want others sticking their noses in my business. So, even though I had a horrible problem and even though it desperately needed to be addressed, I hated anyone who exposed my addiction. In that condition, the truth was my enemy and those who spoke it were attempting to hurt me with it.
This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. The addicted justify their corrupt behavior through layers of lies. They’ve built a protective facade of rationalizations and excuses to protect their existence. Surrounded and shielded by self-deception, they cannot face the truth because the truth is simply too painful to behold. Truth poses a threat to their cocoon of lies and anyone who wields it is an enemy trying to destroy all that they’ve built.
This is what Paul encountered in today’s passage. In it, he confronted the Galatians for abandoning salvation by faith, insisting that they now earned it through certain behaviors. Paul exposed this deception and apparently received significant backlash for doing so. Though Paul loved them, the Galatians treated him as an enemy because he spoke the painful truth.
We’re instructed not to judge others, but that doesn’t mean we avoid the truth. When our loved ones are engaging in self-destructive behavior, we may need to lovingly speak the truth. Yes, they may hate us for a time, but for the sake of living rightly ourselves, we must sometimes put what is right ahead of our desire to avoid conflict.
The flip side is that we must accept the painful truth when others reveal it to us. We all have self-deceptions that we use to protect ourselves. Occasionally, those around us will peal back the lies, which is always painful. If we want to continue to grow and change (which is the normal Christian life), then we must allow our loved ones to show us the truth – even when it hurts. Though it sometimes feels like it, the truth isn’t the enemy, and neither are those who speak it.