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Posts Tagged ‘enemy’

The phrase, “for your name’s sake,” almost sounds like a last ditch argument. Almost, the psalmist seems to be saying, well, if you won’t help me for any other reason, at least do it for the sake of your own reputation.

From the Blog, Dark Side of the Moon.

From the Blog, Dark Side of the Moon.

For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
    in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;

    destroy all my foes,
    for I am your servant. [Psalm 143:11-12, NIV]

It’s not a concept we use as much in our contemporary culture. Oh, perhaps on occasion, a parent may go ballistic because his/her child has been maligned at school and a number of conferences ensue to protect the family name. And, we saw a little more patriotism after the terrible events of 9/11, when unexpectedly, everyone seemed to raise the American flag in a furor of national allegiance. For that season, we were all proud to be Americans (but, in my mind, the cost for such public spirit was too high).

However, back in biblical times or even later periods of history, it was much more common practice to defend the family name, or the tribe, or the “House.” It was as though the tribe itself had its own honor, its own personality, its own history to which all were responsible for upholding its good name. They were bound together by their faith in their King, a sovereign whose people were being harmed or killed or scorned. Rise up! They called. Raise the banner. Fight the good fight. Defend! And in those efforts, they would inevitably come to their altars and to their gods and ask for favor, in defense of the “King’s” offspring or servants or knights or countrymen. The people were the King’s representatives, for good for for ill.

But there’s another way to look at this verse which becomes more relevant for me today by examining alternate translations. My favorite is actually the NASB (emphasis mine):

For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies
And destroy all those who afflict my soul,
For I am Your servant. [Psalm 143:11-12, NASB]

This identifies the enemy: the enemy within. The struggles that happen within the heart and soul. Here is where I can understand fully the cry out to God to save me, to heal me, to protect me by casting out the voices of my past, the ingrained habits that threaten to dissolve my peace and hope, the ancient “enemy.” And for only one reason: because I am a Child of God; I have confessed and committed to the Christ Spirit within me; I yield to the One God and serve God wholly. For these reasons, I ask for help in casting off the “old man.” — “We know this: whatever we used to be with our old sinful ways has been nailed to His cross. So our entire record of sin has been canceled, and we no longer have to bow down to sin’s power.” [Romans 6:6, The Voice]

 

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Who is that devil? Who likes to talk about the “devil,” “Satan” or evil? Culture has morphed the devil into a red-horned little man with a pitch fork at Halloween, or a dark looming evil suction machine ready to drag me into Hell, or the scapegoat for everything wrong with us.

I Peter 5:8
Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.
[Amplified]

In Peter’s voice, the evil entity takes on a very personal nature: that “enemy of yours.” It’s a specific adversary who is lurking around my world, ready to take advantage of some negligence or self-indulgence, ready to ruin a situation, break apart a plan, or discourage a goal.

The NIV translation is simple, “be self-controlled and alert.” Therefore, in the face of Peter’s recommendations, it means behavior that is out of control, intemperate, or incautious, will be a set up for a fall, a slippery slide at the water park. Interestingly enough, I think these moments of imbalance are specific to each person. They are my battles and my particular challenges. “My” enemy may not be your enemy. My indulgences may not be yours. That means, the other guy or gal over there, may have equally unique hazards or threats that may not look all that difficult to me.

I believe this “personal enemy” works from the inside out, just like everything else. Oh, there may be some global enemy who hates the Earth, let’s say, and brings on tsunami’s and famines. Why not? But right now, I’m considering how this enemy of mine gets a foothold inside me.

It doesn’t take long to figure this out. There are several easy “ins” for that enemy of mine such as my issues of food, weight, exercise, and discipline. Or what about those procrastinations that expand from a few minutes to days, weeks, or even months? And in relationships, what about consistency and honesty? I can see how an imbalance in any of these spheres play heavily on my sense of worth and well-being, my trust in God.

So often the imbalance is not just in “not” doing, it’s also in doing too much. Perfectionism and performance-based choices are equally distracting. I’m like a pendulum, swinging back and forth between the two and that enemy of mine swings right along with me.

And so, I ask myself, how do I achieve true balance? How can I be vigilant without being controlling? How can I be cautious and yet be a risk-taker? How can I find the “de-militarized zone” where there is no condemnation and no fear?

Time away. Prayer. Forgiveness. Each day: manna.

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The simplicity and power of loving my neighbor as I love myself is staggering. But I don’t do it. I’m not just talking about the people who live next door of course. I mean that more challenging neighbor, the one typified in the parable of the good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-37], possibly even an enemy.

Romans 13:9b-10
You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. Love does no wrong to one’s neighbor [it never hurts anybody]. Therefore love meets all the requirements and is the fulfilling of the Law.
[Amplified]

I know, people roll their eyes when I start talking about the force of love. It all sounds so “cheesy” and “new-agey” or maybe it’s those memories of “flower power” and “free love” from the 60’s. But I keep running into this command as I study the scriptures and I think the repetition is worth noting.

Scot McKnight has it right when he espouses what he has coined the Jesus Creed, that basic tenet captured by Jesus when he was asked by the Pharisees, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” [Matthew 22:35-39]

Is my trouble in my inability to love myself? I know a lot of teaching has turned in on itself and somehow, the emphasis has shifted to loving self. Pretty funny, really. There are folks who can’t seem to get away from it “being all about them.” As though this practice of loving self would teach us to love another. I don’t think so.

Or is the problem in my definitions of love? Certainly Webster’s Dictionary doesn’t help much as there is so much emphasis on romantic and sexual love and that’s not the love that is meant for my neighbor (unless it’s “Housewives of Orange County” or whatever is the new “Peyton Place”).

Truthfully, I know enough about the love of scriptures to practice it if I really wanted to do it. Agape love is the term used here and it’s more sacrificial in nature. Agape love means I must step outside my comfort zone. And in the end, that’s the main reason I don’t practice it regularly. I don’t like being outside my comfort zone.

God forgive me.

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