Journal Entry // August 12, 2022
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. (ESV)2 Corinthians 10:3
What is the misunderstanding that we all make as we make our journey through this world in the light of the gospel of Christ? It is typically that we will often wage war according to the flesh. What I mean by this is that we want to be obedient in our actions as we walk in the flesh and demonstrate our love for Christ through this obedience. This is absolutely good and right. If we love Christ, we will obey his commandments. Where we fail is that we aim to do this through the flesh and not the Spirit. We are led by our self-righteousness and make judgements about others without any consideration of their heart and the leading of Christ through the Spirit. We wage war with the world and with each other according to the flesh using our own understanding as the arbiter of righteousness instead of the Word of God.
I see this at work in my heart as well. I see this habitual need to pronounce judgement and condemn others without truly understanding their heart or fully engaging with them to understand their intentions. I listen to gossip or I take slander to heart. I hear an untruth and then use it to box in a person. I box them in and never truly let them out of that box. I wage war with the flesh against my neighbors when I simply disregard or write off fellow brothers and sisters without seeking to engage their heart and see the truth of the error for myself. What’s worse than that is that I then engage in this continued slander or gossiping about them. I talk about their frailties and failures as though it is a proven fact. I care far too much about the outward fleshly appearance.
It is good and right to protect the name of Christ as I witness the actions of others and I should definitely work to uphold and defend the righteous character of Jesus as he is represented in this world, but I cannot do this according to the flesh. I must engage in this battle through the Spirit, which is much more difficult. This means I don’t assume the worst about people and their intentions. It means that I engage with them on a heart level. It means that I don’t just sit back in judgement against them without ever taking the time to understand their heart in the matter of disagreement. I have found that when I do this simple act, I am changed. My heart is challenged to view the situation through their lens and their heartfelt spiritual understanding. I can begin to see and understand their perspective. This doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them, but it does mean that I understand their intention and motivation.
I find that my heart wants to wage war in the flesh for two reasons. First… My heart is full of pride and self-righteousness. Second… I don’t know how to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, nor do I love my neighbor as myself. I often get stuck in this loop of waging war according to the flesh because I think I know what is best and I must be the one to make judgement and defend the holiness of God in this world. There is some responsibility in this, but the waging of the war is not in the flesh but in the Spirit. My goal of waging war is not to win the battle, but to win their heart! This is the key to loving with all my heart in humility. My concern is not to prove me right or prove them wrong, but to engage them heart to heart and see the wayward person brought back into fellowship with Christ. The point of the conflict needs to only ever be the gospel of Christ at work in the heart of the person I am speaking to and my own heart. Engaging in humility to understand another person and help them see the grace of mercy and Christ. Pointing them to Jesus for repentance and remember that I too, like them, need this same repentance. I need the abundance of grace in my heart.
Lord, thank you for your grace that overflows in my heart. Thank you for the men you brought into my life that spoke not harshness about my sin and failure, but repentance and grace. Thank you for those men that listened and engaged with me on a heart level. Those men that didn’t approve of my failure, but didn’t write me off either. Those men that loved me. Those men that engaged with my heart and helped shepherd me back to the truth of the gospel and fellowship with Jesus. I am where I am today because of their kindness and loving words with actions. I am thankful that you brought these men into my life and rescued me from my sin and slavery. You worked in and through these men to actively bring me to repentance and faith. Lord, make me as one of these men for others. Use me to engage with a wayward man and help him engage his heart with Christ. Continue to draw me close and comfort me with your grace and mercy. Keep making me humble…