Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A balance of extremes

Be bold, be a fighter and be ruthless with the devil.  It’s a constant theme in these blog posts. It’s so important, because it has changed my walk with God, my prayer life, my mindset and in seeing answers to prayer.  

It’s exciting to live in that kind of relationship with God, but as in all good things, you can become unbalanced.  Following all of God’s word, not just the parts you like, will keep you from becoming unbalanced, but our human nature tends to get stuck in ruts.  Even good ruts.

Once I can get a cold or disillusioned Christian to become excited about faith, it’s usually because they were like I used to be, knowing nothing about spiritual warfare or their authority to fight and overcome.  Once they see how God comes through for them as they are courageous in faith, as they sacrifice their flesh and confront the devil, they’re so on fire that they don’t want to stop.  But as extreme as we need to be in boldness and strength, we also need to be extreme in humility and love.  

We don’t view love as strength, because most of the love that we witness in the world is just confusing emotional mush.  Parents think that loving their kids means giving in to whatever they demand, allowing them to insult and disrespect them, so that they grow into selfish, dysfunctional adults.  Or couples claim they love each other while demanding unrealistic standards, they tear each other down when disappointed, but expect total forgiveness when they betray each other.  Old-fashioned Hollywood love was all soft and sweet emotion.  Modern love is turning into some weird complicated joke.  But only pure and godly love is a weapon that destroys evil.  It even lifts up and strengthens both the giver and the recipient.  We don’t usually think of love as a form of warfare, but what could be more against the tactics of the devil than loving an enemy?  There’s nothing like it.

When we know someone is suffering, the greatest love we can show them is to fight for them.  But that fight has to be rooted in love for our neighbor, and more than anything, love for God.  A Christian who’s all bluster and noise, Bible-thumping and grandstanding, is like that clanging cymbal in 1 Corinthians 13.  He may even stir up real faith in others, but it doesn’t mean that he’s pleasing God.  There are plenty of disgraced faith-healers who are examples of that.  As much as God exhorts us to be bold and courageous, and as hard as it is to get Christians to act out a bold faith, our boldness needs to have a foundation.  

Weapons of warfare take on many forms, just like Paul and Silas’ joy, Jesus’ peace, and David’s confrontation with Goliath.  They all require courage, and they all have to be rooted in a humble love for God that obeys to any extreme.  Seek God’s wisdom to know how to use all of His weapons, but make sure that your motive is always out of love for Him and for His Kingdom, and never for your own glory or benefit.  

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.  (I Corinthians 16:13-14 NKJV)

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