The Bully

In 1890 Amy Lefeuvre captured her readers with a story about a little boy named Teddy.  My husband read Teddy’s Button to our children several years ago and it has since been one of my favorites.    Teddy wants nothing more than to be a soldier, like his heroic father who fell in battle.  But through a turn of events his eyes are opened to the understanding of the greatest battle of all – the spiritual battle warring for his soul.  One of my favorite parts in the book is when Teddy commits his life to “the Lord’s Army”.  He tells the preacher that he now wants to know who his enemy is so that he can fight.  After all, a soldier must fight!  The wise old man turns him to a full length mirror and explains that he will be his own worst enemy.  So in childlike candor Teddy declares that he will name his new enemy “Bully.”  Throughout the book, as Teddy struggles with the epic battle between his flesh and the spirit, he will observe at times that Bully almost won that fight but with God’s help he was able to overcome him.

A few days ago I was reading in the Psalms and was again reminded of this dear story. David wrote Psalm 18 after the Lord delivered him from the hand of Saul. “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.”(Psa 18:17-18)

All I could think about was my own “strong enemy” that is “too strong for me.”  Maybe you know that feeling as well.  There are days in my life that sin abounds.  There are days that my flesh is weak and my faith is feeble.  These are the days that I am truly my worst enemy.  Satan does not need to come after me to tempt or discourage; I’m doing a fine job on my own. There are days that the war between the flesh and spirit rages mightily.  Paul understood this as well.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit he wrote, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:18-24)

It almost seems hopeless, doesn’t it?  But Paul goes on to say, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 7:25-8:1)                                                                                                    

So, on those days when sin abounds, I cling to God’s Word.  “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” (Rom 5:20)

 And on those days that my flesh is weak and my faith is feeble, I trust in Christ and His imputed righteousness in me.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3-4)

And when “Bully” rears his ugly head in my life I remember the Words of the Psalmist.   “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.”(Psa 18:17-18)

Just What Kind of Wife Am I?

Last Sunday we began a new small group study from the book of Job.  I am sure most of you are familiar with the tests, trials, and temptations Job faced.  As you read in the first chapter you see the dialogue between God and Satan that initiates his afflictions. 

 “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8.  

 Satan accuses God of creating a hedge of protection around Job.  In response, God allows Satan to take all he has (except Job’s life, Job 2:6).  Satan takes the lives of his 10 sons and daughters, takes all of his wealth, and eventually his health.  Job is left with nothing but accusatory friends and his wife.

 I have always found it interesting that Satan did not take the life of Job’s wife.  It would seem to me that would be the quickest way to destroy a man.  But as the story unfolds we see one potential reason for leaving her behind. In the midst of affliction, the advice Job’s wife gives her husband is rather dreadful.  “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die, But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips,” Job 2:9-10.

 However, before we are too hard on Job’s wife, we should remember that these troubles came to her as well.  Imagine losing all your children, in addition to your wealth and security.  Job’s tragedy was her tragedy.  So I do not want to be too judgmental.  But what I do want to look at is how she was used as an instrument of Satan.  Satan’s intent was to destroy Job, his life, and his faith.  In his attempt, he took all Job had.  Satan had the authority to take the life of Job’s wife, yet he left her behind.  Could it be that Satan knew she would be more of a hindrance to him alive than dead?

The influence of a wife is great.  A wife can make a good man greater or bring a good man down. The Bible explains it this way. “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands,” Proverbs 14:1.  One of the easiest ways to destroy your husband, your marriage, or your home is with your words.  Proverbs 18:21 says that, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  What power the words of Job’s wife must have held.  There is much we can learn from the example of Job’s wife.  I must ask myself, if Satan were to set out to destroy my husband, am I the kind of wife that could be used in his devilish plot? In the midst of tests, trials, and temptations am I a wife that is a help or a hindrance to my husband.  Am I building him up or tearing him down? 

 Job was under spiritual attack, just as all Christian men are under attack.  As spiritual leaders, Satan wishes to destroy their life, testimony, and family.  It is during these spiritual attacks in a man’s life that he needs the loving support from his wife the most.  Often times, Satan will use the troubles of this world to divide husband and wife.  Our eyes become fixed on our problems; words get spoken in haste and fighting begins.  Sometimes it may even seem that our husband is the enemy.  But it is important to remember that believers do not fight against flesh and blood but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” Ephesians 6:12.  Recognizing this, when we face those hard times husbands and wives need to come together in unity and not fight each other but together fight the Evil One.  

 So, just what kind of wife am I?  Well, you would probably have to ask my husband to get the truest answer.  But I can tell you what kind of wife I desire to be.  My greatest desire is to be a true help meet (Genesis 2:18) that is as a fruitful vine by the sides of his house (Psalms 128:3) and a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10) that is a crown to her husband (Proverbs 12:4) whose words are edifying and only minister grace (Ephesians 4:29).