We are marked men (and women) when we live for God. The Bible reminds us “We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) The threats of the enemy are real, but we should not cower in defeat. It’s imperative to put on the full armor of God from head to toe. We must be dressed for both worship and war. Many don’t want to believe it, but we are in a fight. Life is a fight. The Apostle Paul reminds us to “fight the good fight.”
Despite being a walking target for Satan’s attacks, I often feel that “Everlast” is tattooed on my forehead. Some days I feel like a preacher and other times I feel like a punching bag. What was confusing for so long was that some of the most insensitive comments come from carnal and complacent Christians. You expect it from the “lost,” but it’s disappointing from believers. Too often, I have encountered folks who want to take cheap shots.
Some Christians seem to think that it’s their duty to be negative all the time. Pharisees actually had their own police force, the Sadducees. It’s sad, you see because they believe they are agents of the Almighty, but they are actually pawns being used demonically. Far too often it’s some of the Lord’s own who bring ministers down. We can and must do much better.
The Bible says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) We have to be very careful with our comments. A friend once shared with me that “most folks want you to do well but not really well.”
Dr. Johnny Hunt said in a sermon that almost every time he gets up to preach someone wants to complain or criticize en route to the pulpit. He equated it to someone vomiting all over him and too many people get “high” taking cheap shots at others. Ironically, most of the hits are not over personal sin, but the attacker’s lack of devotion to Christ. Anyone can be a critic, but it takes discipline to be creative. Don’t be a pawn on Satan’s chessboard used to hurt others not even realizing it. Be a winner, not a whiner.
So with a target on our back and “Everlast” embroidered on our head, it is easy to take some serious shots. People see your platform and can be oblivious to the price or pain it takes to stay there. Joyce Meyer said, “Folks see the hour preaching on stage, but not the 23 hours of Hell that come with it.” Both enemy fire and friendly fire can kill. It’s noble to take a bullet fighting the Taliban, but it’s harder to explain to the parents and spouse of a soldier killed in line of duty that it was from one of our own. We must be mindful we are serving in the army of the Lord.
Insecurity and jealousy are spreading like wildfire. Some folks couldn’t compliment someone else if their life depended on it. In the mid 1940′s, a young Billy Graham came to Pennsylvania and some people didn’t want his crusade coming to town, almost halting his ministry. The resistance was from believers whom were not walking in the Holy Spirit, not atheists. A demonic spirit of competition, jealousy, lack of team cohesion, territorialism and downright sin was trying to stop the evangelistic outreach before it started. Billy Graham was so distraught that he wondered if he missed the call of God on his life and considered quitting the ministry. God’s grace is greater than our sin and the shortcomings and cold shoulders of others Thankfully Dr. Graham pressed on! In 1949, God put Dr. Billy Graham on the map when his tent revival in Los Angeles exploded, catapulting him to preaching nationally and globally. Two weeks ago, I preached in Pennsylvania and a pastor told me that those rare souls still living whom caused the ruckus six decades ago still walk around piously as if with a badge of honor bragging, “We almost derailed Billy Graham’s ministry.” They are still convinced that they were doing the Lord’s work! God help them!
Satan throws enough at us. Let’s be more careful with our words to each other. After all, we will have to give an account for every idle word that proceeds out of our mouth. My friend Tony Nolan said it best, “Persecution is a believer’s perfume. God help me wear it well that others may smell the fragrance of Christ.” Just because Christians or clergy preach the fruit of the Spirit on the weekend, doesn’t mean they (we) are operating in it during the week. We are all human. Christ prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
I had the pleasure to speak with Warren Wiersbe on the phone years ago and I remember him saying, “99% of all criticism is rooted in jealousy.” If we have grace inside, we need to show it to all we meet. Pray for those around you. Speak life, not death. Jesus is the giver of life. Let’s walk and talk like it.