In olden days as men marched into war they kept their eyes open for the standard which was a visual signal for where you were to go. The standard-bearer would be close to the leader, providing a rallying point. If anything happened to the standard-bearer and he went down, the whole battle could be lost, since the army would be without direction. If the enemy captured your standard, the honour of the unit was lost.
Today believers are in a spiritual battle and God has given us a standard. The rally point is around God’s Word. It keeps us close to the leader, to our Heavenly Father. It brings the church together with one vision and purpose. Without this Holy book we wouldn’t know Jesus, who must be lifted up to draw all people to Himself. Why is that important?
Jesus’ life demonstrates the principles of spiritual warfare. In purity, faithfulness and love Jesus marches the troops forward, following Him who set the highest of all possible standards. We are to walk in the ways of truth, honour and kindness. We are equipped by God for the battle. First of all He motivates us through the indwelling Holy Spirit to have the right attitudes. Not too many people have gone to war loving their enemies, but Biblical principles clearly state we are to do just that (Matthew 5:44). This remarkable deviation from what is “human” makes a spectacular statement to a world filled with anger, hate and fear.
Following our Saviour’s example, God strengthens followers of Jesus to be joyful in the midst of adversity. Haven’t you noticed how contagious real joy is? People who are always venting over some disappointment, or complaining they haven’t been treated well, often make us nervous because we don’t know when they will begin to see us as their enemy. Joy isn’t about laughter, but it is a deep-seated satisfaction derived from being in the will of God, pleasing Him by our holy thoughts, our intentional choices, and our selflessness.
Selflessness does not mean we become a doormat, or that we succumb to abuse. It is comprised of the intentional deeds we do to help others, to lift them up physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone can encourage those who have fallen. Jesus Himself said he came, not to heal those who are well, but those who are sick (Luke 5:31). Can we see the soul-sickness of those about us? What might we do to help?
Solomon taught “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Spiritual warfare is not for the purpose of gaining ground, but rather for giving grace. Paul taught “Do not take revenge….but leave room for God’s wrath….On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:19-20). Our Lord showed grace to His abusers as He cried from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Recognizing our own sinful state before we were saved by the love of Christ, provides us with a spirit of empathy. Surely all humans come to the foot of the cross equal in guilt and shame. The exquisite relief of God’s forgiveness must then become the catalyst for us to share His mercy and grace, even with those who are our enemies. Paul continued teaching the Roman church “…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” (12:21).
by Marilyn Daniels