My fellow soldier of the cross:
Isn’t it easy to forget to think of ourselves in that way?
As a follower of Christ, we inhabit a spiritual battleground, a place hostile to Him and His ways. Our Adversary wants to lead us away from God rather than toward Him. But that fact shouldn’t surprise us or deter us. You may remember the very first time Jesus prepared His disciples to go out and minister without His physical presence. According to Matthew’s words, He warned them. He talked straight about what they would face.
Jesus said, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). He explained how these wolves were enemies. They would persecute them in a variety of ways: religiously (10:17), governmentally (10:18), domestically (10:21), and culturally (10:22). He impressed upon His disciples that following Him would not be a heavenward stroll along beds of flowers but a rugged march across hostile lands.
Then Jesus added to that wartime mentality a warlike posture. Not warlike in a vicious sense. Rather, warlike in a virtuous sense: “So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves” (10:16). Being as “shrewd as snakes” means being alert, sharp-minded, relevant, cautious, and discerning. Being as “harmless as doves” means being gentle, pure, honest, winsome, and peaceful.
In other words, while we spread His Word, we model His character. Both must be evident. Those are your orders, my fellow soldier. Our Divine Commander has empowered us by His Spirit to do His will. So, don’t drift . . . don’t lose focus. Don’t get sucked into a whirlwind of confusion and fear.
As a matter of fact, in this passage, on three occasions Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid” (10:26, 28, 31). God’s strength overcomes the world’s strength. His purpose flies higher than the world’s purposes. His love runs deeper than the world’s love. As one who has received that deeper love and has embraced that higher purpose, I confidently reiterate Jesus’ command:
DON’T BE AFRAID!
At Insight for Living Ministries, we’ve made Jesus’ mission our mission—to carry the name of Christ into all 195 countries by communicating biblical truth in a clear, accurate, and practical manner . . . without hesitation or reservation.
If you feel the same confidence in Christ and grip the truth with the same tenacity that we do, will you please pray with us, then send a generous gift to IFLM to help us further the mission? Also, I want to mention that you can partner with us by becoming a Monthly Companion of Grace. We greatly depend upon our Monthly Companions who’ve committed to automating their monthly donation and to living grace-filled lives.
With this letter, you’ll find a card with Paul’s vital direction in Ephesians 6:13–18 to put on the full armor of God. We’ve included this card to encourage and strengthen you as you stay alert and persist in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Marching forward with you,
Pastor Charles R. Swindoll