Don't Throw the Skillet! Identifying Our True Enemy
Confession time: sometimes I get in really dumb arguments, mostly with my husband. Well, nowadays they are more like silly little tiffs, and they don't happen so often as they used to. But earlier on in our marriage our disagreements led to some all out blow-outs over things as simple as who would change our then baby girl's diaper, or who would let the dog out.
I am not proud to admit that I once even threw a spiked heal shoe at my husband. I also once threw a frying pan at him. I promise, I wasn't aiming to hit him, but the sentiment was still there.
Pretty silly, right? Perhaps some of us our there would never allow ourselves to stoop to the likes of screaming over such unimportant issues. And yet... how often do we find ourselves preoccupied rehearsing our annoyance over matters of trivial inconvenience or disagreement: the car that cut us off, the dirty look from across the room (or so we perceive it), the unsavory tone that accompanies a disagreeable comment....
And then there are the bigger issues, like outright unjust, even illegal acts against us... the blatant acts of defiance or disobedience by those in our care whom we are trying to help despite themselves... or the huge mistakes in leadership (whether local or national) that we believe might even change the course of our lives. There sure is a lot to be angry about out there. In fact, our anger can easily define us; or perhaps it's what we do with our anger that defines us.
When Jesus' cast a demon out of a man in Matthew 12, the religious leaders accused him of having a Satanic spirit that enabled him to do so. Jesus replied with these famous words in Matthew 12:25 (NRSV), later repeated by President Abraham Lincoln:
"Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand."
Jesus was primarily speaking about the demon and the divine authority by which he cast it out. But perhaps Jesus also meant something more. Perhaps Christ sought to shed light on how all of the petty arguments within the religious threatened to tear the church apart. In opposing Jesus Christ, they were literally opposing God.
They who had been charged to help people draw close to God were actually pushing him away, because they were more concerned about being right than being faithful. In a very real sense, every time we engaged in petty fleshly battles against one another, we are doing the same thing, because our battle is not against flesh and blood.
Ben and I now have a helpful mantra that helps us cool off when our conversations start to get heated. We say to ourselves and each other "You are NOT the enemy. I am NOT the enemy." And then, at our wisest, we begin to pray together for the wisdom to identify and fight properly against the REAL enemy.
Are you holding on to a petty battle, or disagreement, or criticism? How's that working for you? I promise you, if the battle is not ordained by God, you are fighting against the Savior. If that's what you're doing, I promise that you will not win that kind of battle... no one will.