Monday, August 17, 2009

"Beyond the Dog"

When the wicked seek the harm of God's trusting sons and daughters in Christ, the greatest danger to us is that we will respond in a manner that puts us at odds with His nature, character, and will.

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-48).

Ever and always, the glory and will of God are paramount in our existence. All other considerations are secondary, including our perceived well being. "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). The truest "well being" of believers is to trust and obey God. Our attitude, motive, and outward response to attacks must first and foremost reflect response to God, as opposed to reaction to those who attack us. If we respond in kind, we forget or deny who the Lord Jesus was in His earthly lifetime, and who He now is in us as He dwells within us by His Spirit. "The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also... The sufferings of Christ abound in us" (John 15:20; II Corinthians 1:5).

When God lengthens the leash of our enemies to challenge us in whatever manner, we must look beyond the barking, snarling, teethbaring dog to the One whose tether ultimately controls the extent of our exposure. The Bible is filled with the enemies of God falling into their own traps when the Lord's people submit unto Him, and His way has not changed in our day. "The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands... Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." (Psalm 9:16; I Peter 4:19). God's lengthening of the leash is always prelude to our enemies paving the way for greater glories and experience of our Lord's person, presence, power, and provision as we walk in His character and Scripturally prescribed response.

As have every generation of Christians, we are living in days when unbelievers are acting toward us in ways we should expect. They are being what they are. More importantly, however, God remains who He is, and we remain who we are in relationship to Him. We must act accordingly, again, responding first and foremost to our Heavenly Father rather than reacting to our enemies. He will keep our hearts safe in His care as we do, even as He may allow the outer courts of our being to be tossed in tempest. Any other response will place us at odds with Him, and we will find His loving chastening to be a far more formidable challenge than anything our enemies can foist upon us.

"For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."
(Hebrews 12:4)

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