My friend’s hands shook as she showed me the pages of the book Concussion that her son had been assigned to read as a sophomore in high school. She’d highlighted the pages (upon pages) of vulgar language that would deem a movie rated R. Although her son wouldn’t be old enough to get into an R-rated film, The school system assigned the reading of these offensive words as homework. No parental guidance letter, warning notice, or authorization signature form had been sent out. My friend asked for prayer before she confronted the school to protect her children’s minds and guard their hearts.
It’s easy to believe that evil happens somewhere else. It’s not in our town, neighborhood, or home. We’re stunned and often unprepared when something hits close to home. But the Bible warns us to be “sober and vigilant because our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Being safe doesn’t mean isolating ourselves and hiding from what’s out there. It’s not pretending that life is hunky-dory or staying quiet and complying. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
We must Resist.
There is a difference between being rebellious and confronting out of righteous anger. Righteous anger doesn’t let the devil roam through our cities, schools, and homes. First, however, we must submit to and humble ourselves before God to know His will. Second, we are to resist, which often means taking action and confronting evil. Nehemiah told the people of Jerusalem, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 5:14) Nehemiah had to confront Tobiah and Sanballat. These evil men had done everything in their power, including spreading lies, threatening, and an assassination attempt, to keep Nehemiah from rebuilding the walled gate to protect Jerusalem.
We don’t battle alone.
Chapter three of Nehemiah lists the families repairing the gates and sections of wall, these families were spread out, most working remotely on the areas near their homes, but they were working to accomplish the same goal. Nehemiah instructed them to continue fixing their section on the wall. But when the alarm sounded, they were to come running and defend each other. We don’t fight alone. God fights with us, and so does our spiritual family, not only in the physical realm but in the spiritual. 1 Peter 5:9 says, “Stand firm against him [the enemy] and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”
Keep your spiritual weapons handy.
It is not time to put down our weapons. We must keep putting on the full armor of God daily and stay vigilant. Covid exposed many issues and activated many people, but how quickly we can fall back into our complacency. Just like Nehemiah, we must have our weapons ready and with us at all times. Nehemiah 4:23 says they had them, “even when we went for water.” So too, must we continue to carry our spiritual weapons because our fight isn’t against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).
Call out the lies.
When Sanballat and Tobiah couldn’t stop Nehemiah from finishing the wall, they turned to intimidation and spreading lies. Sanballat wrote letters to the king, claiming Nehemiah was trying to overthrow the king’s authority and install himself as the sovereign ruler. Nehemiah didn’t back down, and he didn’t apologize so that he wouldn’t be trashed on social media (or by whatever means gossip traveled back then). He didn’t worry about appearances. His only concern was for how God felt, so Nehemiah spoke the truth and called Sanballot out, “You know you are lying. There is no truth in any part of your story.” (Nehemiah 6:8)
John Adams once wrote to his wife Abigail, “I must study politics and war so that our sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.” We must confront evil now while we have a chance by a peaceable means. If we don’t, then we’re only kicking the can down the road and forcing our children to have to battle evil by another means in the future. Author of Living for Legacy,Brian Bullock, says, “Building a legacy isn’t for the weak.” It’s not easy confronting school systems, bad boyfriends (or girlfriends), or tyranny in our workplaces or government. It’s not always easy to stand up and speak the truth, but don’t let complacency take root.
We can take courage because Romans 8:31 states, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
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