Monday, March 27, 2017

Defeating the Enemy

In this world we face many opposing forces each day.  There are the forces of the sin that draws us away  from God and (as said in Hebrews) weighs us down like chains.  There is Satan, a real presence in all the evil that comes against us.  But there is one enemy that might be the most difficult to face and defeat.  That enemy is us.

On April 22, 1970 a famous comic strip published a quote that has endured years beyond the life of that little cartoon.  The comic strip was a poster penned by Walt Kelly for the first Earth Day.  It said simply (through the words of the character Pogo) , "we have met the enemy and it is us."  The point?  If we litter, pollute and ignore the setting in which we live, our setting will become unlivable.

But let's take this a little further.  Our own worst enemy is often our self.  Pogo was right.  But Pogo's statement is a clue to overcoming this formidable foe.  Our personal environment is littered, polluted and unlivable because of an enemy ... self.

The first key to defeating self is to see our self clearly, honestly and critically.  I cannot defeat self when my focus is on all the other people who are at fault for my problems.  I must focus on how I can make changes that will allow me to grow as a person and become more Christlike.  David said, "search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts [Psalm 139:23]."  David understood that he could not defeat self without God's teaching and drawing him to become better.

The second key to defeating self is to act on the behaviors that are destroying the things I should be.  David's words from Psalm 139:24 ring true ... "Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."  David knew that seeing the truth in God's Word is valid but totally useless unless it is acted on under Godly guidance.

Finally, self cannot be defeated without sacrifice.  Jesus told the self-focused disciples, "Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage [Matthew 20:27-28]."  He modeled this behavior by making Himself nothing, even to death on a cross.

I often talk to people with problems in their lives and relationships.  They often know Scriptures and are very willing to tell me they have read God's Word, sometimes even using it to justify their behavior against another person.  They need to meet their own worst relational enemy ... their self.  They need to see clearly who they are, act with God's guidance on their behavior and then model God's teaching by becoming less than the person they are in conflict with.  It works every time!  Randy


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