As kids, we played ball in a vacant lot next to a scary German Shepherd, which was chained to a stake. If our ball went near him, we didn’t dare retrieve it. Once, our only ball fell in his territory. Was he that dangerous? I got up to him and stared him in the eye. Immediately he growled, jumped and just missed me. I decided then and there, he could keep his old ball.
Our Father…forgive us the wrongs we do as we forgive those who wrong us. Lead us not into temptation, but keep us out of the devil’s territory. (Matthew 6,4, Our Paraphrase) The tempter is like that vicious dog. Jesus taught us what to do about it—pray that we might stay out of his territory.
Once, I was doing the dishes, brooding over something my wife said to me, when a thought popped into my head. “No one appreciates you.” “That’s right”, I thought, “no one does.” I decided to give my wife a piece of my mind when it dawned on me—that wasn’t my thought and it was a lie. I realized it had to have been the devil’s speaking in my mind.
I didn’t repent of the thought. It wasn’t mine. But I did go to be reconciled to my wife. If I hadn’t, I would bring sin into my heart, conflict into my home and hindrance to my prayers. (I Peter 3:7). A Chinese proverb says, “You can’t keep a bird from landing on your head, but you don’t have to let him build a nest there.” The Bible urges us, Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4: 8 KJV)
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the devil’s territory to be tested. Three times the tempter spoke to him. Instantly, Jesus recognized his voice and resisted him with the Word of God. So be worried if the devil doesn’t speak to you. It means you are no threat.
Today the tempter might come to me if I feel snubbed or someone does or says something that’s wrong. I may read a post in a blog, know it can’t be scriptural and feel indignant. I’m inching up to the devil’s jaws. He is sure to speak to me, something like, “You should stand up for the truth. Go on the attack!” If I don’t shoo that devil bird away, he may build an ugly nest. I have a choice: agree with him and do something unkind or be like Jesus and resist the devil. After all, our warfare isn’t with our brother. It’s with the prince of darkness. (Eph. 6:12)
“What’s so wrong about standing up for the truth?” you ask. Truth without grace is folly and what would Jesus do? He was full of grace and truth? (John 1:14) If I do write a post criticizing another Christian, they will write back in kind. What must an unbeliever think who sees it? “There go those Christians fighting again. I’m glad I’m not a part of that.”
I’m standing up for God, I think. Maybe, but I play right into the devil’s hands. His strategy is to divide us, damage our witness and reputation in the eyes of unbelievers. It could easily make them stumble. Moreover, I disregard Jesus’ command and his prayer that we should get along, love each other that the world might believe. (John 13: 34, 35; John 17:21). The apostle wrote, Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV). Wonderful words of life!
So, what’s more important, being right, or shining the light of Christ’s love that others may see our good works?. Not only does this glorify our Father in heaven, it could lead to someone repenting and becoming God’s child.