Vol. 6, No. 2
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The great T. B. Larimore, of long ago, said, "While I have friends who would gladly bear my every cross for me, you know I have some enemies. While I cannot understand why I should have such friends, I do not see why I should have enemies. I am an enemy to no one. Long ago I solemnly resolved no one should lose an enemy when I die" (Larimore And His Boys, p. 62). Such was the character of the great preacher Larimore. His biographer wrote of him: "In an intimate acquaintance of twenty years, I have never heard him use an expression which would indicate that he had any feelings of bitterness or resentment toward anyone. He has often spoken to me of unkind treatment received from others, but never has he manifested any feeling of anger toward them" (Ibid.).
Of course brother Larimore knew, and we all know, that there is no way for a Christian to escape enemies. We will have them by the very nature of our relationship to Christ, who himself had enemies. Jesus told his disciples, "Blessed are ye, when [not if] men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake" (Matthew 5:11). There are times when, though we strive to exhibit the spirit of Christ at every turn, Satan's emissaries close in around us. We have done nothing to provoke their wrath except to try to walk in the steps of the Saviour, and yet we bear a similar reproach to the One who did no sin and yet was reviled (1 Peter 2:21-23). Some are enemies of the Gospel (Romans 11:28); enemies of the cross (Philippians 3:18); enemies to all truth (Matthew 13:25).
I admire the spirit of Larimore in the disposition of kindness that drove him to the resolve that he would leave no enemies when he died. The saintly temperament of this great man is rarely found in many preachers today. Better than the spirit of any man is the spirit of Christ, who, though he lived perfectly, also suffered righteously. It is through his own apostle Paul that we learn that the simple preaching of the truth can make enemies for a preacher (Galatians 4:16). If I am to have enemies, then, may it be because I have not failed to preach the truth at every opportunity and have never shunned to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). And may it be with the speech of love as Paul directed (Ephesians 4:15), rather than by the venomous talk and caustic pen by which some preachers think the Gospel to be best communicated. If being without enemies means being soft on sin and silent on error, then, I pray that I will have my share as a higher duty drives me. The same is true for us all.
However, like T. B. Larimore, of long ago, none of us should by our dispositions make enemies of others. May such a spirit control us that when we die no one will lose an enemy.