My Proverbs 31 devotion last week about spiritual warfare apparently hit a nerve.
So many people all over the world are struggling with attacks from the enemy in all different forms, and it blessed my heart to read that so many are committed to trusting God in their circumstances.
However, as I read through all the comments, two things became abundantly clear……1) Satan does not discriminate, and 2) he has an infinite arsenal of tools to attack people’s hearts.
In some cases, he uses challenging personal relationships to discourage us. He may use health, employment or financial difficulties. At other times, he uses addictions, abuse or self condemnation. And at times, he even uses people.
Unfortunately, all too often, the enemy works through broken people to hurt others physically, resulting in the horrific amount of abuse, violence and murder in our society today. But sometimes he uses more subtle tactics. Tactics that cause wounds that are invisible to the human eye.
Tactics as simple as a person’s words.
Over the past few months, I have had several comments posted on my blog from someone who obviously knows my family personally, but who posts their comments as ‘anonymous’ – because their comments are not very kind. Comments that not only attack me and my faith, but also my children.
I will admit – it hurts to have your integrity and your faith questioned. It stings for someone to say negative and mean things – especially when someone’s comments move beyond us, and onto attacking our families as well.
But as my thoughts and emotions stirred, rather than get upset, I chose to pray. I prayed for God to fill my heart with His reassurance, rather than allowing the words of a broken person to shake my confidence. I prayed for Him to help me respond in the right way. I prayed to forgive. And then I prayed for my accuser, because I know that ‘hurt people’, hurt people.
As my prayers floated up to heaven, God opened my eyes to see what was really going on. You see, these were not just words spoken by an anonymous person, but tools of the enemy in an attempt to make me discouraged. These were not mere verbal attacks, but spiritual attacks – exactly as I had talked about in last week’s devotion.
I looked up the verses again in Ephesians 6:10-12, which tells us our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers of the unseen world. I also looked up Galatians 1:10 for comfort, which says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (NIV)
What peace it brings knowing that God doesn’t expect us to please everyone – only Him. He knows how imperfect we all are, yet He loves us anyway. And He knows that we will we mess up at times, but He always promises forgiveness, and unconditional love and acceptance.
In life we will always encounter people who criticize and judge, and their harsh words may cause us to feel discouraged and condemned. But what I have learned over the years is that constructive criticism is something we all need and should value; honest, heartfelt words that can help us mature and learn. But destructive criticism never comes from God.
Maybe a parent spoke harsh words to you as a child which have haunted you ever since. Maybe a spouse has criticized you and made you feel “less-than”. Maybe a co-worker, an in-law, or a former friend ridiculed you and it’s been difficult to forget the pain they caused.
Friends, let’s remember this. When we feel hurt by the thoughtless words of a broken person, we always have two choices:
* we can seek and embrace God’s truth in the midst of the criticism, and remember that
we are precious and honored in His sight
* we can listen to false truths of our accusers, giving them authority over our hearts and
succumbing to the enemy’s lies to make us feel discouraged and worthless
I choose to seek God’s truth. What about you?
Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NIV)