“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
The Best Defense Is a Good Offense
I used to believe the adage “the best defense is a good offense.” It was really practical advice for a school-age kid. As I was growing up, bullies didn’t generally pick on me because they would go for an easier target. Although it is not a godly way to live, I didn’t know any better. Then, I grew up and became a Christian, which rendered all my past experience and advice useless when my kind- hearted daughter encountered a bully in second grade. I was at a loss for how to help her deal with it because my instinct just didn’t seem to fit with what the Bible says. So instead, I told her to be kind anyway, and I tried to teach her better ways to cope with conflict. It didn’t make her situation any better.
The bully made my daughter miserable every day, and unlike my daughter, she was good at shifting gears and acting super sweet in front of the teachers. At the same time, I volunteered in the classroom and saw how this girl struggled. She and my daughter were polar opposites, and my daughter excelled where she lacked (and vice versa). Even though my daughter couldn’t fathom this popular girl with perfect hair being jealous of her, it was obvious to me that envy was the root of the constant bullying.
We made it through that season and learned valuable lessons that only come from heartache. However, it wasn’t until much later that I figured out how I should have handled it: with spiritual warfare. You see, staying on the offense against your enemy is great advice, as long as you keep in mind who your real enemy is: Satan. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). If my daughter had taken the offensive against this other girl, God’s precious child, the bullying might have stopped, but the other girl’s envy and heartache would have increased.
Satan’s goal is to destroy all of us in every way possible, but God tells us to rise above it and be righteous. By using her gifts of persuasion and good people skills the way she did, turning envy into pride and being cruel to others, this girl unwittingly continued down Satan’s path and eventually fell from popularity, ruining what was good in her life. That is why Galatians 5:15 warns us, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Your real enemy wants to use you to ruin others, and then he will take you down too. Satan had a similar plan for my daughter, but while she also sinned and messed up along the way, she prayed and tried to follow God. His path led her out of the strife to a place where she has grown. Now that she is removed from this situation, she has sympathy for her former enemy and has developed a soft spot in her heart for kids who don’t fit in.
Bullies, antagonists, and enemies come and go from our lives, but we need to keep our footing on the firm foundation of absolute Truth. My younger daughter is now facing a bully in school, but it is much easier to handle now that we know what to do: “But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Separate yourself from the toxic situation, believe the best about everyone, and pray for them. Believe that God is good and powerful, and He will ultimately work everything out for good if you stay on course (Romans 8:28).
Blessings and Love,
- What are the difficult relationships in your life? Have you lost sight of the real enemy and who you are battling?
- Give these situations back to God. Confess how you have sinned, ask for forgiveness and guidance, and believe that God will help you. Just keep bringing it back to God.
Do your kids (or you) struggle with a troubled relationship that causes strife and drama? Use it as an opportunity to teach your children how to love their enemies. Read this study with them or find a children’s book or devotion on the topic. Teach them to recognize Satan as the true enemy in the situation.
Teach them to believe the best about others; talk about the good characteristics of difficult people. Talk about why they might act that way. You don’t have to know their backgrounds; just use your imagination to help your children see their enemies with a balanced perspective. Point out how your family doesn’t act that way because of blessings from God: godly friends, a loving and supportive family, etc.
Teach them to rely on God for resolution. Pray for their enemies. Pray these people will grow into God’s plan for their lives and learn how to behave, but also pray that they will prosper. Ask God to teach you and your family how to love these people and to see them the way God sees them.