Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
My witty, irreverent aunt lived her entire life in the deep South.
She worked for many years as a registered nurse and taught nursing until her death from cancer at an early age. Her storytelling abilities were legendary. I would sit spellbound and listen to the tales she wove of her exploits working the wards.
Toward the end of her life, she struggled with a difficult relationship. Her greatest frustration was to be blindsided by a new issue. My mom and I traveled back down south to visit the family one year. I remember the three of us sitting at Aunt Mil’s table as she shared in colorful detail the emotional pain she had endured in recent months.
“I’m just trotting along, picking my pawpaws and putting ‘em in my basket,” she said, “when all heck breaks loose.”
Translation: “I’m just going along, happily minding my own business, when I’m ambushed by this person.”
Difficult relationships can make you feel like you’re surrounded by the bad guys. But who really is your enemy? Not people, of course. Especially not the people you love.
Our enemy is the devil, that ancient liar and thief, shrewd student of human nature.
Although he isn’t omnipotent or omniscient, he could easily conquer every one of us if it wasn’t for Jesus. The devil is a vanquished enemy, but a formidable foe.
Much of our defeat in our spiritual lives and relationships can be traced back to our own ineptitude in recognizing and dealing with him. Satan loves nothing more than to divide people and convince us to hurt each other. Are you aware of the spiritual warfare waged around you? Do you know the true nature of the emotional battles that consume you?
The Bible tells us that victory is possible. I haven’t arrived there yet, but I know God has given us strategies for success:
Live like a soldier, armed and alert to perils ahead.
Resist the temptation to be lured into a trap.
Learn to respond to every insult lobbed at you instead of reacting instinctively by attacking back.
Discover the emotional buttons that set you off and work on disarming those triggers.
Strive for authenticity in your relationships. Be the person you want others to be.
And do not give the devil an opportunity.
– Ephesians 4:27