Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Principled Defense

In all fairness, and the spirit of full disclosure, I had not planned on posting this article. It is in fact an article that I wrote for the hand of help newsletter, that will go out to those of you who receive it shortly. At the behest of staff and friends alike however, I have decided to post it on the blog. Thank you all for your prayers, and your words of encouragement. They mean more than you will ever know.
One need only look at the history of the church within the last generation or so, to see that our resolve has been weakened, and is almost nonexistent when it comes to defending the truth, or standing up for what we know to be just and right. For most people, silence and retreat is more acceptable than the defense of truth, because chances are very slim that one will get wounded while retreating. We weigh the matter judiciously, conclude that it’s too small a thing to get worked up about, and back away slowly as to not stir the attention of the enemy. We don’t like making waves and the enemy knows this. We have an aversion to being marginalized, to being mocked, to being ridiculed, to being persecuted, and so we would rather slink away in the middle of the night than confront the enemy. We have taken it upon ourselves to become negotiators, when we have been called to be messengers, to be spectators when we have been called to be soldiers. We have become passionately passionless, and purposefully purposeless for fear of offending the unregenerate and unrepentant.
With every retreat the enemy gains more ground, with every omission, with every act of cowardice on our part the enemy gets that much bolder, and continues his steady march.
For some reason we’ve come to believe that the enemy will simply stop short of our citadels, that he will stop short of besieging the towers if we just give up enough ground. Surely the enemy will be content with a partial victory, surely his desire is not to overrun the entire house of God. If this is what you believe, if you believe that the enemy will stop short, than you don’t really know the enemy we face. His desire is the utter destruction of God’s house, and he will not stop short of his goal. This is why we must stand, this is why we must boldly proclaim the truth and defend even those things we consider as insignificant or of little importance.
There is a passage in first Chronicles that details what I’m attempting to convey. At the beginning of David’s reign, the Chronicler of the time took a census of David’s mighty men, and among them was a man named Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite.
1 Chronicles 11:13-14, “He was with David at Pasdammim. Now there the Philistines were gathered for battle and there was a piece of ground full of barley. And the people fled from the Philistines. But they stationed themselves in the midst of that field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. And the Lord saved them by a great deliverance.”
Here was David and Eleazar, defending what amounted to a piece of ground full of barley. It wasn’t like they were defending a city, it wasn’t like they were defending Jerusalem, it was just some barley in a field. All of the people had fled, the Philistines were on their way, and they came to the conclusion that it was easier to let the Philistines have the piece of ground full of barley, than to risk their lives in order to defend it. David and Eleazar however, decided to stay and fight, they decided to make their stand for a piece of ground full of barley, and even risk their lives in order to defend it.
What we must understand, is that it wasn’t the barley they were defending and risking their lives for, it was the principle of giving up ground to the enemy. David’s principle was simple. We leave nothing to the Philistines. Whether a patch of earth or a handful of barley, David and Eleazar decided and purposed in their hearts, that they would give nothing to the enemy.
The spiritual principle that we learn from this exchange is as simple as it is profound. We must not be willing to leave anything for the enemy. If it comes to it, we must be ready and willing to go to war with Satan himself, even over something small, something that the world would look at and mock us for defending. Leave nothing for the enemy to exploit!
The sad and lamentable truth, is that the church in our modern age has given up allot of ground. Those who ought to have been mighty men, those who ought to have been warriors, decided it wasn’t worth fighting over a patch of earth, it wasn’t worth defending a handful of barley, so they simply retreated, and gave up ground. We refused to defend the small things because we thought them unworthy of our efforts, and the more ground we gave up, the bolder the enemy became. Soon enough, here the enemy stood at the castle walls, and now the church has gotten so used to running it has gotten so used to giving up ground, that it is having a difficult time mustering up the courage to defend the city itself.
Those of you with spiritual eyes and ears know exactly what I am talking about!
The last part of the verse we read is also worth repeating, because it reveals a second essential spiritual truth. When we stand our ground, when we defend the truth of God’s word, when we are willing to put our reputations on the line for the sake of Christ, and suffer the mocking and scorn that will surely come from the godless, it is the Lord that will fight alongside us; it is the Lord who will ensure our victory.
All they had to do was stand and fight, all they had to do was be determined that they would not retreat, that they would not back down, that they would not give up ground to the Philistines.
The Word is very clear as to who gave David and Eleazar the victory.
“And the Lord saved them by a great deliverance.”
It’s not that the church is continually suffering defeat; it’s that it hasn’t even made its stand yet. Between those who prefer to be mere spectators, and consider that taking a stand for the truth isn’t really for them, because well, they just want to preach a positive message, and be positive and create an atmosphere of positivity, and those who surrender to the enemy before the first sword is drawn or the first bow is strung, the number of true warriors, the number of those who are willing to defend the truth and make their stand is small indeed.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I do not trust men who call themselves warriors yet have no scars. I do not trust men who call themselves warriors yet their armor is in pristine condition, as though they had it pressed for a military funeral rather than scarred and worn as though they were standing on the front lines.
Make no mistake, we are at war, and this spiritual war is one in which there can be no spectators. There are only three options. We either flee from before the enemy, surrender to the enemy, or make our stand against the enemy.
I realize full well that some continue to be under the misconception that they can strike a truce with the enemy and somehow coexist. The only problem is that the enemy never honors your terms of surrender, and you will be a slave, and subject to his whims. Knowing that the enemy is merciless, ruthless, vile and heartless, his whims will always gravitate toward creating an environment of pain, sorrow and heartache for those who surrender and give up the fight.
When we are faithful, when we honor God in the little things, when we look upon a patch of land and a handful of barley as David and Eleazar did and say in our hearts it is not dispensable, it is not expendable, it is worth defending and worth standing our ground over, we know that God stands with us, and though the enemy might outnumber us, it is the Lord who will save us by a great deliverance.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.