Psalm 11:2 For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. (NKJV)
It is part of the human experience to be attacked by someone else. It is even more a part of Christianity to be persecuted further simply for loving Jesus. Our fleshly response is to be defensive or to retaliate.
There are many different reasons why the attacks happen, either by unbelievers or fellow Christians. The mature Christian will learn to discern these motives and respond accordingly. Very often, the attacker is hurting, stressed, confused or misled. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t times when the attacks are just simply evil being played out. Most certainly that happens routinely but sometimes, I’d even say in my experience, MOST of the time, there are circumstances behind the motives that open a door of ministry for us.
What separates Christians from the world is that even when we are attacked we do not seek revenge or stoop to retaliation. Don’t let this be confused with defending our families, employer or friends. When attacks on us (and those around us) result in our unselfish and sacrificial defense of others, that is a good thing. But how should we personally respond, feel and act ourselves concerning the wicked person attacking us? So far we’ve looked at:
- The real motive behind the attack on us: hurt
- Our response as Christians towards them: sympathy
Sometimes people lash out at us because of hurt in their own life. Empowered by the Holy Spirit we can actually have sympathy rather than anger because we understand that this hurting person has no access to the only Person who can truly heal their pain. Next time someone slings an arrow at you, look carefully for signs that this person might be reacting to hurt in their own lives without the Great Physician to heal them.
- The real motive behind the attack on us: stress
- Our response as Christians towards them: serving
Stress from work, family, church or health can cause people to respond in the most bizarre and abnormal ways. We live in a stressful world, in stressful times. When someone attacks us while they are under great stress, I believe the most effective Christian response is to serve them. Help them alleviate the stress. This may open the door of their heart so that you can share with them the ultimate stress relief.
- The real motive behind the attack on us: immaturity or ignorance
- Our response as Christians towards them: patience
At times we are attacked by those who are plain and simply immature. Their immaturity may be emotional, spiritual or relational but all typical result in a hair trigger character that is quick to attack others. When someone lacks maturity, the easiest way to cover it up or avoid admitting it is to attack anyone or anything that it doesn’t understand or that challenges the immaturity. Their is no other response for this type of person other than patience. Maturity comes with time and patience. As Christians, we may be the only people who will ever have the understanding and willingness to help a person mature.
The quiver is full when it comes to reasons that the arrows of the wicked fly against the righteous. This by no means an exhaustive list, but let’s take a look at a few more and we’ll wrap up this series.
A Few More In the Quiver
- The real motive behind the attack on us: competitiveness
- Our response as Christians towards them: understanding
Occasionally we are attacked by someone who is simply competing with us for something: time, attention, recognition, acceptance. By responding with understanding we can demonstrate to these types of people that you can compete and achieve without attacking or hurting other people. Be an example of someone who does not respond in revenge, but can work hard, be succesful and do your very best while not be threatened that someone else may do better. Show them through your response that healthy competition with love is good thing while competition to find meaning or value in life is not, especially when it turns ugly. Note: some folks claim all competition is bad, that it doesn’t not demonstrate servant-mindedness. I would disagree. That’s like saying a true Christian could never win the 100 meter relay or improve his products and services because it is not putting the other guy first. Competition, done right, helps us to grow, be better, and reach beyond our comfort zone. It most certainly can be done with love, humility and a servant’s heart. Competition by a Christian demonstrates the true nature of giving your very best effort while maintaining an attitude of love, self-control, humilty and concern for all involved.
- The real motive behind the attack on us: envy
- Our response as Christians towards them: compassion
Attacks often stem from envy. Envy comes from a lack of contentment. Contentment is impossible without God. When you face attacks from someone that is plainly envious (of your good marriage, your joy in life, your contentment, your peace, etc.) the proper response is compassion. Everyone wants these things but the vast majority of the whole is not looking in the right place – or should I say the right Person. Even if the motive is something as clearly wrong as envy based in greed or covetousness, it still originates in a wayward heart that is focused on things that will never make them happy. Rather than retaliating or being angry at your envious attacker, stop and think about the fact that they will NEVER be happy in life the way they are headed. If you cannot find compassion for someone that you know is headed for a lifetime of misery, then perhaps it’s your own heart that needs a little work.
- The real motive behind the attack on us: peer pressure
- Our response as Christians towards them: kindness
Following the crowd often results in joining in an attack that we may not have otherwise suffered. Peer pressure is a powerful influence life whether good or bad (we Christians could stand to be a little less wishy-washy and employ a little more Godly peer pressure to each other). When you are attacked by someone who is clearly “going with the flow” wait for your opportunity to respond individually to them in kindness. Perhaps through your response, their heart will be open to God.
- The real motive behind the attack on us: guilt
- Our response as Christians towards them: forgiveness
They are shacking up and miserable; you have a great marriage. They are sour and unhappy; you are joyful and content. Their kids are defiant and untameable; your kids are respectful and obedient. Their life is filled with vices; your life is wholesome and stable. They are cheating, committing adultery, lying and being lazy; you are honest, hard working and faithful.
It is common to be attacked by someone whose life has gone wrong, and they know it (or sense it). Guilt may be the strongest motivator of behavior and attitude that humans face. Often these attacks will come in the form of accusations or attempts to characterize your parenting methods, marriage roles or honesty as something bad. “You spank your kids, that’s abusive.” “Being submissive to your husband is allowing him to run over you.” “You’re just kissing up to the boss by looking like you work hard.”
The examples could go on and on. When sin is exposed with righteousness, the response is often to attack the righteous as being “judgmental” or “holier than thou”. This is to be expected and knowing this tendency, it will be easier for you to respond with forgiveness and compassion towards the attacker.
They need what only Christians have in salvation: peace, comfort, stability, standards, acceptance, hope and a clear conscience. The next time someone attacks you because your life clearly causes them guilt about theirs, respond to them with instant and genuine forgiveness. Maybe through your response, they will see the value of the life you have chosen and become open to wanting to learn more about it.
- The real motive behind the attack on us: evil
- Our response as Christians towards them: love
This one is probably the hardest but stems from a direct command to love your enemies (Matt 5.44). Sometime people attack us simply because they are “on the other side” playing for the dark spiritual forces squad (Eph 6.12). There are times when we are attacked by the wicked for the simple reason that they are wicked. God has called us to respond in love so that if possible, their hearts will be pierced and perhaps they may turn in shame and repentance to a merciful God.
Of course we could categorize all unbelievers as “the wicked” but for the sake of this lesson, sometimes our wicked choices and behavior stem from other character flaws or circumstances. Yes, wickedness is wickedness in whatever form is takes, but I’ve seen the difference between someone who attacks for the sheer wicked pleasure of it, and someone who attacks from stress, pain or ignorance. When the purely evil attacker comes calling, our duty is to love them through Christ who strengthens us.
It’s easy to get mad and feel angry when attacked. This is a NATURAL response. As Christians we should grow past the natural, fleshly response and begin to develop a spiritual, supernatural response. This not only helps you minister to the attacker and show Christ’s love to them, but also allows the Christian to avoid a vast amount of stress, anger, bitterness and frustration.
Responding in love not only ministers to the lost,
but allows the Christian to avoid unneeded stress,
anger and frustration when being attacked.
This point should not be quickly passed by. Think of the last time you spent several hours, days, weeks or even years being mad at someone who wickedly attacked you. How much good did your anger do? Who was really hurt by it? You, or them? How much blessing could there have been if you would have looked in patience, sympathy or compassion at your attacker rather than anger or defensiveness? What affect on their life did you miss out on? How much maturing did you forfeit by holding on to being offended?
It won’t be long before you will be attacked in some way. Many of you will be attacked by friends or co-workers. Countless others will be attacked by family members. Sadly, not a small number will be attacked by professing Christians.
How will you respond?
Psalm 11:7 For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright. (NKJV)
Will you respond in righteousness despite the hurt? Will you trust the Lord to bless you, defend you and see you through if you choose to minister to your attacker rather than retaliate?
Lord God, help us to respond in righteousness to those who attack us. Help us to respond in such a way that our attackers clearly see their need for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: To be able to respond in love and compassion to an attacker takes a willful decision AHEAD of time. Rarely are we ready to respond instinctively with patience and understanding if we simply react to an attacker. We must decide proactive NOW to respond in love THEN. We can save ourselves so much stress and aggravation if we respond in righteousness to those who attack us rather than respond through our flesh with revenge and defensiveness.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?