Okay, so I know peace and putting up your dukes don’t normally go together, but hear me out. I went to a mini-conference sponsored by the Rethink group back in January. It was called Orange Tour 2008. I cannot remember the last time I left a place feeling so motivated.
The weird thing is that one of the messages still sticks with me on a daily basis. Reggie Joyner put it boldly and simply: “Fight for your relationships.” He went on to talk about what that meant, and I’ve been trying to sort through it ever since.
This is Biblical. I tend to think of having peace in relationships as though it were a passive thing. Yes, it is right to turn the other cheek. Yes, it is wise to keep silent when provoked. Yes, I am blessed if I actively pursue peace. Sometimes these are a struggle in and of themselves. But does that mean that I settle for ho-hum, tolerable relationships? Based on Reggie’s comments, and based on Scripture, I think not.
I pondered this passage from Nehemiah 4: 12-15 (NIV)
Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us." Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
If I settle for less than God’s best, I leave my relationships exposed to attacks from the enemy. God had given Nehemiah great wisdom, and he passed it on. When the people got tired and didn’t want to fight for the cause anymore, he posted them by their families. That’ll wake up the warriors really quickly, won’t it?
It’s kind of the same deal with me. I settle for what I have because it is too exhausting to fight for the ideal. I don’t get the fire back in me until I'm in danger of attack or worse—attacked already.
But here’s the answer: The battle belongs to the Lord, so it is to Him I must turn to have the ideal in my relationships. It starts on my knees. After I’ve prayed, it's time for me to act on it. I'm not going to settle. I'm going to put up my spiritual dukes, fighting with the resources He has given me, living God-strong in the relationships with which God has entrusted me.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Message)
A Fight to the Finish
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
© Copyright 2008 Laura L. Shaw
For more information on the Orange Conference, click on this link: http://www.theorangeconference.com