- Published: Tuesday, 29 November 2016 18:52
- Written by Don Goulding
But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven…Matthew 5:44-45 (NETFull)
Alley was the most lovable, huggable, happy tail-wagger of a golden retriever I ever met. In her fourteen years she never so much as growled at the children who laid on her or tugged her velvety ears.
If I had bound Alley with a chain when she was a puppy, and every passerby kicked her or threw stones, it would have changed her temperament. She would have snapped at humans or become a shaking heap of fear.
Many of us are like abused dogs. We are mistreated most of our lives. Before children have their permeant teeth, they have callouses on their hearts from gossip, rejection, and unfaithfulness. Then the victim grows into a perpetrator.
Only mercy and love have any hope of breaking the cycle. Mercy heals wounds, and love restores hearts to the innocence of infancy. Sometimes violence can only be stopped with force. But punitive action merely interrupts the trauma, it doesn’t resolve the root problem. The only way to cure a bitter heart is with undeserved grace and unwavering love.
The next time someone barks hostility at me, I hope I remember they are an abused puppy. They were born joyful but others beat them until they only knew how to snarl. I want to show mercy, and extend love. To do less, to reply to vileness with anger, is to concede the battle. I’m called to stop the cycle, to live heroically and respond with the same mercy and love that Jesus showed me.
That’s what Alley would do.
Prayer: Father, send an abused puppy that needs mercy and love today.
So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. (Romans 8:12-13) (NETFull)
Of the three enemies that plague me—the world, the flesh, and the devil—the most dangerous is my old nature that craves self-rule. Satan and the world are menacing to be sure, but neither of them can touch the real me in my spirit. Only my own flesh can drag my whole being into hell.
I am my enemy. The battle of life is against my own carnal nature. I fight human injustice, and I’m zealous to attack Satan, now it’s time I stop crumbling before my flesh.
Today, I admonish myself—know your failures. Study your weaknesses then diminish their territory. Don’t make a pact with your darker self that as long he doesn’t flat out deny Christ, you are willing to allow worldly impurities. Don’t go there. The danger is far too perilous for compromises.
Most importantly, deploy the nuclear bomb that demolishes temptation—the filling of the Holy Spirit. The world, the flesh, and the devil all melt in the presence of the Spirit of Jesus.
On this battle ground you will be made or destroyed. Be strategic. Be bold. Rout the enemy before he overtakes your eternity.
Prayer: Present Holy Spirit, help me in today’s mighty battle against myself.