Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We are so quick to forget that our struggle isn’t against human beings. Sadly, human beings are often used by the powers of evil, but they are not our actual enemies. Keeping that in focus is actually very powerful spiritual warfare, because people don’t know what to make of those who won’t hate them when they’ve been given every reason to do so. We don’t act that way naturally. Jesus’ words about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44) have been dismissed as impractical idealism by many over the years, but if it is our choice to do as Jesus said, God will enable us to follow through and do it. We need to be aware that the same forces that make bad use of the people around us also war directly against our own souls, and we are as capable of hurting others as they are of hurting us. Yielding to such forces never benefits anyone. Even those in law enforcement or the military who are called on directly to take the lives of others should be praying for those they have to kill, without being paralyzed by doubt when the moment comes. The whole matter of self defense comes in here too. In addition to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also said that if his disciples didn’t have a sword, to sell their cloak and get one. (Luke 22:36) Physical response to physical attack is not wrong, but the spiritual battle is at the root of it all, and we must not forget that.
This again is close to home. I have been strongly tempted to despise the owner of the land next door because of how he has acted, really throughout the time we have known him. However, he has been shaped – deformed – by the one who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, (John 10:10) and the landowner is not my enemy. I am to pray, as I have been doing, that his interaction with us would open his eyes to the reality of a God who loves us all, so that he too would open his heart to receive that love. I realized quite a few years ago that he was a wounded and scarred individual, though I have no idea what events contributed to that. I am to pray for him not only to do what God desires – which will benefit me – but to repent and believe for his salvation, which will benefit him and cause rejoicing in heaven. (Luke 15:7)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You have on our slate for today. May I go through today seeing each individual as someone Jesus died for, allowing Your love to flow through me to them, so that all the forces of evil may be defeated indeed and many brought to light and life in Your kingdom, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!