Defense – Defend – Defensive… Good Morning to all my readers on this Hump Day! I have an interesting devotion that I have been working on for a while. It has to do with what I call “the 3-D’s” you see in the heading. These words shape our character and our lives.
We live in such a caustic society today that the anger and retaliation statistics are off the charts. I was trying to tabulate the daily activities of such crimes but after a few weeks, it was so depressing I gave up! It’s like being in a fish-bowl—nowhere to go to escape the insults and jabs…and that’s what pushes us to put up our defenses, and sadly, we act in a not-so-polite manner.
What happens when you get a nasty comment on social media? Attacking a person’s integrity is popular these days. And for those of us with faith, when we are belittled and attacked for our faith, our belief in God, God’s miracles, the Resurrection of Christ, etc., we go on the defensive in full body-armor. Surprisingly, this is not what God wants us to do. In fact, God does not need to be defended. I put this in bold because we need to remember this. Search the Scriptures and you will find over and over again that this is true.
For me, I see this in the Garden of Gethsemane episode where Peter was quick to defend Jesus when the Roman soldiers and high priests came to arrest him. His anger was palpable, and he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, Malchus. How did Jesus react to this defensive outcome? Jesus ordered Peter, “Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?” Notice it wasn’t, “now Peter, let’s think about this, it’s nice of you to defend me, but…” No, Jesus gave an order!
Why did Jesus react this way? Could it be that Peter’s defense was retaliation—a reaction out of anger, if not a downright crime? Peter forgot Jesus’ words—in fact, all of the disciples forgot that Jesus told them he would be going to Jerusalem, would be tried and convicted and would die. This didn’t set right with his followers, and especially with Peter. No wonder he was quick to take it upon himself to stop what God had already put into motion.
Way too often we are like Peter; someone defames us, gossips about us, lies about us, etc., and out comes the “sword.” Our retaliation is just as bad as the accusers! Sadly, there is no win-win here, and the outcome creates more anger! No wonder guns are proliferating in our society and shooting one another has become the latest fad.
Let’s face it, we want to prove we are right no matter the situation. We feel the need and we call it “our rights” to defend ourselves. “No one can do that to me!” we shout loudly, but we never take that 10-seconds of breath before we dive in with retaliation. How should we react in this situation? Obviously using insulting anger isn’t what works and it is NOT what God has called us to do. In fact, acting this way does not serve God’s purposes at all—ouch!
Later on, Peter wrote in his first letter (3:8-1 from the Message translation): Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good. Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he’s asked; but he turns his back on those who do evil things.
Obviously, Peter learned his lessons and began to understand how a child of God acts even in threatening, angry moments. Indeed we can trust that the Lord never asks us to tolerate abusive situations or relationships, but the Lord also wants us to react in a way that we don’t become like the ones hurting us. When that happens, our testimony of faith we profess goes right out the window and the devil has, once again, divided us and provoked us into his deadly lair of schemes.
It is only when we let God take his rightful place as our Defender that we can respond to others in love. Does that always work—no—but often it does and then something beautiful happens—to both you and your accuser. We need to take our focus off the accuser and focus on God first. This isn’t something our culture cultivates…but as a child of God it is what we are supposed to do and we need to cultivate that every day, in our prayers, our thoughts, and our actions.
In closing, my mind is singing the old contemporary praise song, “The Battle Belongs to the Lord.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp_PolBwjEw) It reminds me that God has won the battle long before we are in it, so let’s use our defenses in the right way. You never know, you may turn an enemy into a friend…and in doing so, you will be changed as well. Nuff said, AMEN!