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Fighting: How to Champion Godliness

Fighting godly battles requires us to exercise restraint in the midst of our passion. We must avoid sinning because we are impassioned for God’s will.



Disagreements

Polarized. When we read the news, scroll through social media posts, engage with our relatives — is there a better way to describe how the world seems? There is a “for or against” mentality regarding all hot button issues. The polarization trickles down into less public, more intimate disagreements. “We should agree to disagree” is a hollow statement, not meaning the sum of its parts so much as meaning. “We have to stop talking about this now if we are going to continue liking one another.”

I like to avoid fighting. I find no enjoyment in conflict. Anxiety muzzles me. Inwardly I am impassioned, but outwardly I resist the urge to bark or bite at an offending argument. I justify this through scripture that cautions us to be slow to speak, lest we present ourselves as fools.

Fighting godly battles requires us to exercise restraint in the midst of our passion. We must avoid sinning because we are impassioned for God's will. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #ChristianLiving #controversial #fight #disagreement #love #mercy #peace #fighting

Fighting on Behalf of God

Our faith, though, calls us to action on behalf of the Truth our God instilled in us. Why did He give us the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit if He empowered us only to sit on the sidelines quietly? No. We must learn to fight for people and the will of God while answering the call to be peacemakers.

I think a lot of the reason we get into unproductive, vitriol-fueled fighting is because we do not take time to control our impulses. We do not step aside from our emotion.

A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Proverbs 29:22, ESV

While we are to advocate for that which is right and righteous, God does not call us to sow hatred or to transgress in His name. He asks us to point others toward Him and His kingdom in all that we do and say. When we stand our ground in our arguments, we should have a subconscious self-check going on as we navigate these debates.

-Do the words I speak, show I love God?

-Will the person I am speaking with know that I love them?

-Does the content of my message show mercy, peace, and love to others?

Our Words Matter

At no time does name-calling point others towards the loving-kindness of Jesus. On my way to work, I listen to a podcaster who is well regarded in the Christian community. I respect the message and wisdom he shares. Yet, he frequently calls people idiots.

He does it in a loving aside, or with an endearing chuckle. This lets people know “I’m not really being mean.” But do our choice of words not matter as much as our intent? Words of condemnation can wound. Applied with the proper intent and execution, however, they can restore and empower.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29, ESV

Understanding

This goes beyond using kind words and a gentle tone. If we are to build up, we have to understand the foundation of a person’s belief. We have to be in relationship with the person we are talking to. If their thinking is not in alignment with God, then we should be fighting God’s fight for their betterment, not our superiority. We have to seek understanding. Why does this person believe what they do? Where does their certainty lie?

Often in arguments, we look for the other person’s fallacies to come to light. We want that aha! moment. It feels good to catch someone in their utter wrongness and juxtapose it with our inherent rightness. But they came to their beliefs through their own life experiences; through a lens of perspective shaped by different upbringings and influences. We have to understand that in most cases, those we are fighting with feel they are on the right side of morality or history. Start with the common ground that we all want to do good.

Jude’s Guidance

Jude is this small one-chapter book of the Bible. I often fixate on it. This brother of James and Jesus sketches a picture of a community of Christ-followers who had unwittingly allowed people in who succumbed to ungodly desires. Jude does not hesitate to call out these actions as sinful, but throughout he guides us in how to approach those who are not in alignment with the Father.

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 

Jude 1:9, NKJV

If a high ranking angel remembered who actually passes judgment while he contended with the devil, then I can speak with a friend who is succumbing to sin without passing my imperfect judgment on her.

It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Jude 1:19-23, ESV

Stand Firm in Love

Jude makes it clear. We are to stand in opposition to those who are divisive. When we see another human stuck in doubt or sin, we do our best to point them towards repentance and show them that they need saving. We are not, however, to do so in a manner that goes against God’s commands. We are to keep ourselves in the love of our Father.

God clearly asks us to have mercy and show mercy. At the same time, we must hate the sin they are trapped in, and we should not fall into the trappings of sin ourselves. And fighting with someone in a way that causes harm, for the purpose of bringing glory to ourselves, or in a spirit of divisiveness is absolutely falling into the trappings of sin.

Fighting With Both Passion and Restraint

It’s hard. Sometimes the people we love falter. It hurts to see them walk toward sin. Other people believe so staunchly in things that we find diametrically opposed to the will of God. Fighting for godly things is good. We should ask God to break our hearts for the things that break His. We need passion.

Equally, we need restraint. We need to use our zeal for God’s will to determine what battles need championing, and we need restraint to keep our hearts focused on the love of God while we are in the thick of the fight.

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

Proverbs 25:28, NKJV
Fighting for godly things is good. We should ask God to break our hearts for the things that break His. We need passion, but, equally, we need restraint. Click To Tweet

Practical Strategies

I’m a very emotional person. Throughout my life, I have gotten so swept up in feeling that I have made great mistakes. I have hurt people. In light of this, I am now a huge proponent of approaching the things in life that impassion me with an arsenal of practical strategies.

We are so lucky that God hides practical strategies within the most poetic moments in His word. In reading Jude over and over again, I am struck by a line that I can use to help guard my tongue. What if I, before I entered into a debate with someone, opened it up as Jude opened his letter?

“Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”

Jude 1:2, NKJV

What if I said these words, even just in my head, before opening my mouth or before I start typing? Would that change how I approach someone? If I start my conversation with a sentiment of well-wishing, could I continue to portray love while pointing out sin? I think I just might.

Fighting godly battles requires us to exercise restraint in the midst of our passion. We must avoid sinning because we are impassioned for God's will. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #ChristianLiving #controversial #fight #disagreement #love #mercy #peace #fighting

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Teacher: Being Taught by Someone Who is Trustworthy

Books on controversial subjects are plentiful. Some may be legitimately helpful when it comes to being knowledgable, but how do we know what’s right? David said, “I will not let anything worthless guide me” (Ps. 101:3a, CSB). Who or what should be our teacher?



Interpretation

Last week a mom asked me for advice. Her teenager has been voicing opinions in favor of gender/sexual orientation. She asked how she could talk about it beyond just saying “Because it’s in the Bible.” I said, “When someone wants to use the Bible for personal approval, there are a bunch of Biblical passages that can be taken out of context.”

For instance, I was recently approached by a woman who asked me if I wanted to learn more about God, the mother… ??? There is an entire handbook of denominations that believe different things about the Bible.

Books on controversial subjects are plentiful. Some may be helpful in knowledge gaining, but how do we know what's right? Who or what should be our teacher? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #controversial #GodsCharacter #GodsWord #knowledge #teacher #teaching

The Issues Change

The weight of hot button issues fluctuates throughout each generation, varying in the attention they receive.

A little over one hundred years ago women weren’t allowed to wear pants or vote. Drinking alcoholic beverages was seriously frowned upon in Southern Baptist churches until the last few decades. However, now it has become somewhat of an acceptable trend…which isn’t necessarily a great victory.

Zeroing In

When it comes to any search for truth, the most important thing is to know the Lord. The Spirit of God disciples the hearts of those who seek Him.

I’m not saying we should never discuss specific topics or read books other than the Bible. But the highest counsel comes from God and His Word. The best way to trust the Lord is to understand His character and trust His teaching.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 33:11, CSB

Finding His Character

I understand how frustrating it can be when someone tells you to “get to know the Lord.” Like, wow. I’ve never heard that one before. Great idea! (Sarcasm? Is that you?) HOW? was the battle cry of my heart for so long. If I wasn’t reading it on my own, the Bible was read to me since I was in the womb. Yet for so long I felt I was missing something staring me in the face.

One of my favorite pictures of God’s character is His interaction with Simon Peter. Peter was a zealous, devoted, and fierce disciple—and he was fearfully disloyal when it mattered most. The third time Peter denied being associated with Jesus, Luke records, “Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61a). I love how Brennan Manning wrote of this account.

In that look the reality of recognition was disclosed…The Man whom he had confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God, looked into his eyes, saw the transparent terror there, watched him act out the dreadful drama of his security addiction, and loved him.

Brennan Manning, The Gentle Revolutionaries

Making a Teacher

Jesus saw and knew Peter was afraid. He understood the depths of Peter’s heart and though he had walked with the Christ for three years, he chose self-preservation over allegiance to his Teacher.

What’s more, soon after Jesus’s resurrection He had a conversation with Peter (see John 21:15-19). Jesus asked Peter repeatedly if he loved Him and instructed Peter to shepherd His sheep. Only God, who intimately knows the hearts of humankind, could offer such an assignment to someone who had recently denied knowing Him. Jesus looked at Peter and saw him. Then Jesus gave him another opportunity to be a bold teacher for the sake of the gospel of salvation.

Every time Jesus says, “Do you love Me,” and Peter says, “Yes I do,” Jesus doesn’t say, “Well gosh, if you did, what happened six weeks ago, Bub?” He’s not asking that question. What does He say? He gives him work to do. “Do you love Me? I have work for you to do. I need you to feed my sheep, I need you to tend my lambs. I have work for you to do. I have new, good, beautiful things for you to make, and I want you to start paying attention to Me more than you are paying attention to your shame.”

Author Curt Thompson, MD, shared in an interview with ACT29

A Good Teacher

I am currently taking some seminary classes, so I read a lot of books. Most of them are great teachers. But I cannot tell you how much richer the content is now that I have a better understanding of who God is! God’s character is faithfulness. It is love and justice. His very nature is righteousness, and He teaches those qualities to His children!

But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows Me—that I am the Lord, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.

Jeremiah 9:24, CSB
God's character is faithfulness. It is love and justice. His very nature is righteousness, and He teaches those qualities to His children! Click To Tweet

Enduring Pursuit

Regardless of the issues you are facing or will face, there is help. There is counsel in the Word of God. So much advice is flung at us. From books to social media and more. How do we know what is right? By knowing the Teacher, the Creator of heaven and earth.

It’s not an overnight realization either. It will take our entire lifetime. But when you think about it, isn’t it wonderful? What an adventure—we can always learn more about our Maker and be taught by the One who knows all things.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8, CSB

Books on controversial subjects are plentiful. Some may be helpful in knowledge gaining, but how do we know what's right? Who or what should be our teacher? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #controversial #GodsCharacter #GodsWord #knowledge #teacher #teaching

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