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Friday, July 19, 2019

Learn to Forgive People Who Oppose Me

In review of 2 Timothy 2:23-26 it tells me, "Don't get involved in foolish ignorant arguments that only start fights. As a servant to Christ I must not quarrel, but be kind to everyone. Be able to teach and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change their hearts, and they will learn the truth. Perhaps then they will be able to come to their senses and escape from the enemies trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants."

In this passage Paul speaks to Timothy who's role as a teacher was to help those who were confused about the truth. Paul's advice to Timothy and to me as well is to be kind, gentle, and patient, then courteously explain the truth. Good teaching never promotes quarrels or foolish arguments. Regardless of what I do, I need to remember to listen to people's questions and treat them respectfully, while avoiding foolish debates. If I do this, then those who oppose me will be more willing to hear what I have to say and perhaps turn from their error. This is much like habit 5 of the 7 habits of highly effective people, which is to “seek first to understand, then be understood.”

When I face opposition, especially because of my faith, I need to recognize the source of the opposition. It’s not other people. It’s not your coworkers. It’s not a political party. It’s not some other nation or religion. It’s not a competitor. The pressure you feel to cave in or be quiet or sit down when you should stand up is not coming from other people. It’s really coming from the enemy (satan).

In Revelation 12:10 Satan is called “the accuser of the Christians.” His number one job is to knock me down.

There is an unseen spiritual battle going on all around me. The pressure to keep me from doing the right thing is not really coming from others. They’re just weapons. Most of the time they don’t even know they’re being used. The real issue is spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 6:12 reminds me, “We are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world” (GNT).

Satan knows it’s pointless to attack Jesus Christ directly, so instead he attacks those who follow Jesus. He uses the media and music and popular culture and anything he can to ridicule those who have placed their faith in Jesus. He’s behind the voices saying, “Those Christians are out of date. They’re on the wrong side of history. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re bigots.”

If I don’t have the Holy Spirit in my life, then I have no defense against Satan. He can master my moods. He can lead me into depression. He can make me angry.

I may think I’m strong, but I’m not strong enough to fight Satan’s attacks on my own. What I need to do is recognize the source, the Devil, not the person attacking me, and treat the opposition the way Jesus did. Even on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

The people who attack me don’t know what they’re doing. The people who put down Jesus and church and Christianity? They don’t know what they’re doing.

I need to pray, too, “Father, forgive themso that I can show love even under attack and so I’ll have more energy to fight the real enemy.

In summary, I shouldn't get involved in ignorant arguments that only lead to fights. I am to be kind to everyone, be able to teach them, be patient with them, even difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose. Perhaps God will change their hearts. I need to remember to listen to people's questions and treat them respectfully. If I do, then those who oppose will be more willing to hear. I need to really recognize the source of opposition. It's not the people, it's really coming from Satan. When I experience people's attack, I need to pray, "Father, forgive them."

Wow, my natural tendency is to strike back and defend myself as If I was being dumped on wrongly. I may not want to deal with their attitude or even their issue. What this passage reminds me is to continue to do what is right now matter what. Be patient with, even help to instruct in gentleness those who oppose the truth. Hopefully via my interaction with them I am able to help them escape from the enemies traps.

This morning I thank you Father for this reminder. I pray for your help to remind me of this today and give me wisdom and guidance for my day. I pray these through you Son Jesus name, amen.

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