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Warriors Do This

My friend Dan got up to stretch his legs a bit, walking up the aisle toward the front of the plane before turning around to head back the other way. On the return trip to his seat, he noticed a man reading a Bible. “There’s a warrior,” Dan said to himself. A few paces later, he saw a woman also perusing the pages of Scripture, and he thought, “And there’s a warrior.” Coming upon yet another passenger with an open Bible, he repeated silently, “And there’s a warrior.” As he sat down again, Dan savored the encouraging reminder that “with all the bad news and chaos in the world, there’s still goodness and faith all around us.” Indeed, the church is everywhere. Added Dan, “And these believers were taking time to strengthen themselves in the Word.” Warriors do this.

Praying for Colossian Christians, Paul likewise celebrated the power we gain in maturing in the wisdom of God and in the knowledge of His will. Listen to the passion in the apostle’s petition: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience . . .”1 We grow in our understanding of truth, so that we may bear fruit and gain strength. We gain strength, in turn, so that we may mature in patience and perseverance. Warriors need this.

Then if we are warriors, there must be a war; and if there is war, there must be an enemy. Indeed, both exist, and it is crucial that we see them clearly. Paul calls us to arms: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand . . .”2 Like it or not, we are in a battle, but who is our foe? Continues Paul, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”3 We fight not the people of the world, but “the ways of this world.”4 We stand not against “those who are disobedient”; but against “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in [them].”5 He is our enemy—we stand against him and fight for every person whom he would oppress. We are warriors, and warriors do this.

Father, fill us with wisdom and knowledge of Your will, that we would be productive in Your kingdom, grow in our knowledge of You, and be strengthened with all power for spiritual battle.6 In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Colossians 1:9b-11
2 Ephesians 6:10-11
3 Ephesians 6:12
4 Ephesians 2:2a
5 Ephesians 2:2b
6 Colossians 1:9-11

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When Others Speak of Us

Early in my career, I represented my employer to agents who sold insurance for our company in Northcentral Ohio cities and towns. Most of them were a generation older than me, many in business before I was born. As business owners, they valued their autonomy and exercised their authority; I could attempt to influence their actions through persuasion, but could command nothing. Leaving an agent’s office one day after a particularly difficult discussion, I thought to myself, “I can do this job with thin skin [overly sensitive to criticism] or I can do it with thicker skin. My experience under one approach will be far different than under the other.” As I walked to my car that day, I made a life-decision not to be thin-skinned—no longer would I subject my sense of wellbeing to the whim of others. I have never regretted it.

Most of us are easily influenced by what others think of us, and what they say to us or about us can be troubling—it can “get into our head.” Such was the case with David. Fleeing his own son, Absalom, and hearing what the people were saying about it, David raised the matter before the Almighty, “Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God.’”1 Public opinion weighed on Israel’s king, just as the thoughts and words of others weigh on us today. Then how we respond is crucial, for the proverbial, perilous ditches border both sides of the path. Do we retreat into isolation, disengaging from society—our silenced views and opinions in tow—and losing all effectiveness? Do we instead capitulate to critics, compromising our convictions to gain the conditional applause of others? Jesus warns us against such an exchange—truth for acceptance: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”2

After laying his complaint before God, David confessed with his mouth what he knew in his heart to be true: “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.”3 He chose neither ditch, but walked the road that crested between them. Worldly ways will always tempt us to worldly responses, but wisdom is found in God. He is the One who defines us. He is the One who declares our worth. It is He who accepts us in Christ and sustains us all the days of our life. Our confidence is in Him. We are loved. We are free.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. — Proverbs 29:25

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. When I am tempted to react to rejection of any kind, draw my thoughts and heart to You, for You sustain me always. I know this full well. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Psalm 3:2 NASB
2 Luke 6:26 ESV
3 Psalm 3:3 NASB