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A Time to FightMonday, March 13, 2023
Have you noticed the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6 includes a breastplate but no backplate? We do not turn our backs on the enemy; we advance forward swinging the sword of the word of God. The weapons of our warfare are powerful to destroy the strongholds of the enemy (1 Cor. 10.4-5). God calls all Christians, both men and women, to the fight, but He tasks us men with leading the charge.
Switching our thoughts to the physical plane, men should also be ready to fight for their loved ones to protect them. This is controversial because Jesus did say, after all, to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. But Jesus also said there was a time to take up the sword (Luke 22.36), and Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3.1–8 there is “a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up . . . a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
There is a time to fight.
Godly wisdom teaches us when we should fight, how we should fight, and how far we should go in the fight. Often, we want to fight when we shouldn’t, and when we are in a fight, we tend to go too far. Defending yourself against a bully doesn’t mean you should pulverize the bully’s face.
We should never start a fight, for that would violate the principle of living at peace with all men (Heb. 12.14; Rom. 12.18), and we should “repay no one evil for evil” (Rom. 12.17). But if a man strikes or shoots a robber who has broken into his house in the dead of night, he has not started the fight. The robber proved he intended violence when he invaded an inhabited house, and only a fool would flip the lights on and kindly ask the robber if he were just planning on a peaceful visit.
To train in a martial art or in weaponry (gun, knife, staff, etc.) is to train for battle. The word “martial” in martial art means battle—it’s literally a battle art. I love martials arts, in part, because I can train to be more in control in the event of an attack on my family, friends, or person. The more you understand about the battle arts, the more ability you have to decide in your level of response. You don’t necessarily have to break a man’s bones to stop him. You could choke him out or pin him to the ground on his face with a knee in his back while you wait for the police. However, if he is crazy high on drugs and doesn’t respond to pain, you might have to incapacitate him in a more painful way.
Abraham, David, and Moses knew there was a time to fight, and they stepped forward when the time came. They fought for their loved ones and their people. When David ran to kill Goliath, he was finishing the fight that depraved, bully Goliath had started. When the four kings (Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Ela, and Tidal king of Goiim) defeated the five kings of the plains (Bera king of Sodom, Birsha kind of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the unnamed king of Zoar), Abraham grabbed 318 trained men (all born in his house), tracked those kings down, and defeated them in order to save the captives, including his nephew Lot (Gen. 14).
Societies remain safe because men willingly stand against enemies.
Our constant battle is with Satan and the forces of darkness, but from time to time we must physically protect our families and loved ones. It’s a duty we should embrace, and we should ready our minds for potential action. Praise God we currently live in such a peaceful society, but even still there are bad actors.
Obviously, we should fight only when we have no other option, but there is a time to fight. Physical altercations interact and intersect with our spiritual battles—they are connected. Again, how will we defend ourselves? Will we hate our enemy in our hearts, or will we fight in such a way as to love them as far as we can? Do we intend to annihilate anyone who would sin against us, or do we temper our responses with mercy? In the moment, we fire at center mass until the target is neutralized, and that might or might not kill the attacker. We do that to protect the family. But if we find him still alive, groaning on the floor, do we put another bullet into his head because of the seething hatred in our heart?
God has called us to live in a sinful world, and we sometimes must make difficult choices. May we learn self-control, may we have the strength to stand against the enemy, and may God save us from situations we cannot handle.
For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets. (Psalm 18.31–42)