for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors. Proverbs 24, verse 5.
Another full disclosure here: this verse is coupled with the one that says “a wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength.” I de-coupled them because the point of verse 4 simply struck me. But to be fair and lend verse 5 its full meaning, we need to remember that the prior verse talks about wisdom and how true wisdom and knowledge (i.e. love) makes us strong.
It makes us strong so that we can wage war. We need that; we truly do. We need it because we fight a war every day. I was trained in military arts, and saw ‘combat’ from the inside of a world few others see. It’s real, it’s for life and death stakes, and it’s deadly serious. There are people for whom that task is a 24/7 calling, and I’m so proud to say that, for a time, I was one of them. I have been out of it for years now, and the deeper I dive into my faith, the more thankful I am for my time in the service. Basic military training is great preparation for spiritual warfare. Physical training, defensive tactics, weapons preparation, moral lessons, self-discipline, teamwork, going on offense, duty and honor above self: all those are necessary components we each need to wage the war of the spirit that is put on our hearts with each and every choice we make.
In this era of video game war or the cowardly tactics of weasel terrorists, it’s difficult to remember that war is supposed to be waged with wise loving power. Yes, even when raining hellfire down on our enemies, we are supposed to do so with wisdom, targeting for compulsion those that are in opposition to us. Our model is supposed to be the daily spiritual war we each wage against the enemy. We are tempted, we resist, we persevere, we fail and slip and lose, we retreat, we advance. Our weapons aren’t missiles or smart bombs or cyber attacks: they are the Word of God himself and the scythe of truth that He places into our hands when we absorb that Word into our hearts.
For war we need advisors. The corporal, sergeant, major or general all lead, but they don’t wage war alone. War is offense and defense; it’s no coincidence that the military academies emphasize team sports, especially football (which is all about strategy and tactics). Nobody wages war alone. A line never advances just because of one superstar. Whether it be military combat or spiritual warfare, no man wages war alone. We need others to support our strength, carry out mutual plans, formulate those plans and responses, and advise us on them. More than this, we need a Savior to train, equip, sharpen and fuel us to fight the good fight in His name.
You’re kidding yourself if you think we aren’t each at war every day because we are. When you’re angry and things spin out of control (and admit it: there is an empowering feeling in that anger), do you think that’s a coincidence? Do you think it is sheer chance when chaos and anarchy spread so quickly? Are you so blind to think that mass murder on a scale that history has never seen is just some random happening? Make no mistake about it, my skeptical modern friends, Satan loves the twenty-first century as much as he loved day one in Eden. He is corporal, sergeant, major and general with a legion of angry minions at his disposal. He hasn’t changed his weapons or tactics at all, and they worked just as well on that first family as they do on the First Family in Washington, or the family you see first in your home. He wars with us, using his tactics to do anything he can to separate us from the safety and peace of God. The enemy’s goal is to take the place of the Almighty in our lives, a self-delusion and bald lie if ever there was one. He constantly attacks. He never retreats because he doesn’t believe he has to. How will you overcome it?
You and I can overcome it by emboldening and enriching ourselves with the sword of Him who made, loves, and guides all things. Daily strengthening in Scripture, surrounding yourself with believing friends, encouragement and support from the same, constant confession and absolution, and working to make changes that are based in Him are all weapons at your disposal. As we arm ourselves with them, we’ll find there is safety in numbers. As we seek God’s counsel for all our actions and reactions, we are surely moving forward to something bigger than ourselves, and a better land than any for which we struggle here today. Make no mistake about it: even if you don’t like the fight, we’re in the war together. Me, I find supreme comfort knowing He is beside me just like you are. We’re a great team, all of us, and He will win in the end. He will be victorious and we’ll be standing there beside Him.
Suit up, lace up your boots, pick up your weapon and let’s get in line, my friends. We are made strong, wise, guided and victorious by the author of truth and love. We don’t move at dawn: we advance now.