The other day I was praying and meditating upon these words: “the LORD has been my defense” (Psalm 94:22). What a marvelous and comforting thought—that God Himself is our defense.
While it’s not likely that you and I face physical threats, it’s quite likely that we encounter emotional and spiritual ones. (Sadly, some of our attackers claim to follow Christ.)
How should we respond to folks who desire to wound us?
Jesus is quite clear. “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Hmmm…this is, shall we say, counterintuitive. Why and how can we love and pray for a person who lacks the common decency and good sense to like us?
The fact of the matter is, for a disciple of Jesus to begin thinking, acting, and feeling in ways which go against the grain of natural inclinations, he or she must consciously and continuously submit his or her will to the Spirit of God and thus be renewed in the attitude of his or her mind. As we present our bodies and minds to God, the Holy Spirit does His transformative work within us—remaking us into the image of Christ (see Romans 12).
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Yes, but doesn’t this make us more vulnerable to those who wish us harm?”
No, it doesn’t. And here’s why: God is our defense.
God is our defense and because He is we needn’t be defensive. This idea, I believe, has life altering potential.
How easily are we defensive when we sense we are being challenged, rejected, slighted, or corrected? We can be so “touchy” when someone (perhaps even God) differs with us! We become defensive without so much as thinking about it. Hence, defensiveness is an unholy habit of mind.
It comes by way of pride. Know this: the way of pride always detours to wounded egos. It never leads to progress.
Jesus calls us to a better Way of thinking.
Does this mean we should never defend our thoughts or positions? No, but it does mean we don’t always have to be “right.” It means we can defend our ideas and beliefs without being defensive. It means we can be humble learners.
Following Jesus…it’s not for the thin skinned.