I often think to myself - and occasionally comment to others - that "the human race was going swimmingly when there was just one of us."
I mean no ill will toward Eve by this comment, but rather the fact that our spiritual enemy used human relationship and interaction between Adam and Eve to lead the entire race into sin. Satan still foments his unrest in our relationships by tempting us with deception regarding God's truth, and willful rebellion against His will.
"These six things doth the Lord hate, yea, seven are an abomination unto Him... he that soweth discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16; 19).
"To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (II Corinthians 2:10-11).
Where the devil sows discord, God sows mercy. Human beings fail each other, including the most godly among us. There's never an excuse, but to expect and/or demand anything approaching perfection from those enrobed with the same fallen flesh as our own is a fool's game at best, and a devilish assault at worst. A vast measure of mercy will be required as we live our lives with fellow human beings, mercy received first from God, and then disseminated among us as we are forgiven and as we forgive. Paul wrote that failure to understand and apply ourselves to this difficult reality results in a Satanic advantage of "us" (meaning our fellowship with each other, and the ministry that flows from loving relationship). "If you forgive, I forgive" declared the Apostle, and furthermore amplified such grace by stating that he acted "in the person of Christ."
These are hard words to consider and write because I so often forget the truth of both a discord sowing devil and a mercy sowing Christ. Our enemy subtly works behind the scenes to foment unrest that seems human in origin, but is actually devilish. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:12). Thankfully, the Lord Jesus also works to bestow overcoming grace and mercy unto us, and then through us to our brethren. "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:36).
To whom shall we respond? May God grant grace to remind us of the enormous bestowal of grace we have already personally received. Upon this basis, we will go forth with a vast measure of mercy first known in our attitudes, and then bestowed through our prayers, our words, our actions and our joining with the Lord Jesus as He sows His love among brethren.
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."