Monday, April 2

Don’t give the devil an advantage

Scripture: Judges 13-16, 2 Corinthians 2

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 If you forgive anyone, I do too. For what I have forgiven—if I have forgiven anything—it is for you in the presence of Christ. 11 I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.

Observation

A member of the Corinthian church had sinned and been disciplined by Paul and the church, and had repented.  Paul encourages them to forgive and restore the man.  Failure to do this would lead to being taken advantage of by Satan.  The devil would use the lack of forgiveness to harm both the man and the church.  Paul adds that they were aware of the devil’s schemes—that the devil loves to use division and unforgiveness to harm all involved.

Application

I’ve been deeply grieved by the news that some prominent Christian leaders whom I admire are at odds with one another.  Their open conflict and failure to achieve peace is doing damage to the cause of Christ.  Satan is taking advantage.

I also realize how difficult it is to maintain peace.  Sometimes Christians of goodwill honestly disagree—they see the same situation from different perspectives, and each truly believes himself right and the other wrong.  It seems that no amount of conversation can bring the two together—but when that happens, the devil gains an advantage.

I was thinking of people who have left our church staff over the years—some amicably, but some with anger.  They disagreed with how we were doing ministry or were unable to get along with someone else on staff—and left with bitter feelings.  Some of these people won’t speak to us, despite repeated attempts to reach out.  I know from first-hand experience how difficult that can be to resolve, yet our failure to achieve peace gives the devil an advantage.

All of this motivates me to pray harder for those involved in the conflict I mentioned above—and for all those who have something against me.  God’s Kingdom doesn’t benefit from these unresolved and often open conflicts.  Jesus is our peace.  What is wrong with us that we can’t resolve our differences?  And if we can’t, what hope is there for the world?  I know it’s not easy or simple, but I think the stakes are so high that we must keep at it and not treat the conflict as inevitable or unresolvable.  That only gives the devil an advantage.

And we are not ignorant of his schemes.  He would love to divide us and foster enmity and unforgiveness among us.

Prayer: Lord, this is not a naive prayer for peace and reconciliation—I know it’s not easy or simple. That’s why I cry out to you with all my heart—I pray earnestly, fervently—help these leader I admire work out their differences.  Help us achieve peace with those who disagree with us.  Help us to love everyone always.