Picking Our Fights, Choosing Our Battles

Life is war

That might sound stark and harsh. There are certainly times when that's what it feels like.

Rules of engagement: "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." (2 Timothy 2:3-4) Ladies, too.

Paul, writing to Timothy. He's referring to staying single in purpose when "soldiering on" through this life. Life can indeed be a slog, but if we're "looking unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2), we must realize that many things that we encounter run the gamut from distraction, pure and simple, to downright entrapping circumstances designed to "entangle" (literally, "tie-up") us in things that we were never meant to deal with. It's a matter of choosing our battles, and letting God, then, fight for us. Many times in the Old Testament does it say that "God will fight for you." (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30, 3:22, 20:4) That's whose strength we need to win the battles that God would have us choose and to make it unscathed through the battles that the enemy would seek to entangle us with.

"The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is His name." (Exodus 15:3)

Anytime you feel deep confusion and worry about a situation, you must know that it's a point of spiritual warfare. Time to pray through it. And if there's something that you might have done in ignorance to engage in a situation (guilty!) that was better left alone, the Holy Spirit is sure to let you know. Picking a fight because you feel you can handle it is never a reason to distract yourself from the task at hand.

"Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." (James 3:16)

"Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach (disgrace) shall cease." (Proverbs 22:10)

Many times throughout Paul's New Testament letters does he refer to the Christian walk in martial terms. In Ephesians (6:13), Paul says to "take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." Sometimes, that's all that God is asking. That you stand. When Joshua and his troops fought the Amalekites in Exodus (chapter 17), Moses, who was overlooking the battle with his attendants Aaron and Hur, kept his hands raised to the sky. It says "when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed." (verse 11) As God was glorified, the battle went in His favor. Otherwise, the enemy was allowed to encroach. Moses had to keep his hands up all day, the two men enlisted to hold up his arms when they got heavy. Odd tactics, to be sure. But hey, all's fair, right?

"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." (Proverbs 24:10) Don't worry about it though. Every battle we go through contains a lesson to learn. Say there's a certain character type with which you're predisposed to clash. Perhaps God will surround you with those types of people until you learn, not only to identify it from a distance and take necessary measures, but also to forgive and pray for them. God's boot camp tends to be something that you find yourself having signed up for without your conscious knowledge. Again, don't worry. It only lasts for a season. When it's over, you'll know it. The clouds will part and the sun will stream onto the battlefield. The battle may be won. But the war is far from over.

"And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And He said unto them, It is enough." (Luke 22:37)

The word "satan" is Hebrew for "adversary". If "the Lord is a man of war", and the devil is His "adversary", this means that we've been thrust into the middle of a war. It's a war for the hearts and minds of human beings the world over. Beginning with our own. God would have us fight in prayer for the lives of those we love and those we need to come to love. Jesus came before. Our Commander In Chief, He showed us how it's done. When He says "Think not that I came to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34), He's referring to the inevitable battles that we'll face and the position He knows we must take if we are going to live victorious, the Christian life.