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.
Stress & Serving
Stress…. what a powerful influence it has on our behavior. Stress from work, family, church or health can cause people to respond in the most bizarre and abnormal ways. Unbelievers have it even worse because they are dealing with their stress strictly in the flesh, and do not have the Holy Spirit to guide them or comfort them. We live in a stressful world, in stressful times. Western societies, particularly America, has willfully chosen a very hectic and stressful lifestyle.
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.
It takes a heaping helping of forgiveness to
serve your attack rather than retaliate.
Of course this requires a heaping helping of forgiveness too because the pain of being attacked doesn’t simply disappear. I will tell you this though: the pain disappears alot quicker when you are concerned about the eternal welfare of your attacker rather than wallowing in your mistreatment.
The anger, despair or anxiousness that comes from stress can be indicated by a troubled spirit, resentment, fear or worry. There are many symptoms of stress but the caring compassionate Christian can learn to recognize them and see past the bad behavior to a hurting and needy heart.
How can you serve them? If they are suffering, offering to do something to help alleviate the suffering or comfort them. If they have been through a tragedy or great trouble, think of some tangible way to serve them or be a blessing (make a meal, babysit, mow the grass, etc.). If they are truly having financial stress offer to help with either financial guidance or assistance. Of course there is always the possibility they will tell you to stay out of their business. In that case you can continue to pray for them, and be ready if the time comes when you can serve them.
If the opportunity presents itself, here are some verses you can share: Faith (Rom. 14:23); God’s grace (II Cor. 3:5; 12:9); God’s provision (Lk. 22:42); God’s sufficiency (Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:4-11); Rejoicing (James 1:2; I Peter 1:6); Peace (Jn. 14:27; II Pet. 1:2); Contentment (II Cor. 12:10; Phil. 4:11-13).
There are no comprehensive lists or solutions. You just have to ask God to show you what the stress is, and how you can serve. Tomorrow we’ll look at attacks coming from immature or untaught people.
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?