“Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.” Philippians 1:28 [NLT]

A young boy came home crying after a day at the playground. His grandfather asked him what was wrong. The boy told him that he had been pushed around in the playground by a few other boys. Lovingly, the grandfather picked the boy up and said, “It’s alright. The next time you see them, stand your ground. Find the smallest one, and go for him. Hit him till he bleeds, and everyone else will run away.”

Quite an un-Christian thing to say is it not? After all, Jesus did tell us,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” Matthew 5:38-42

So what is that kind of advice doing in a Christian message?

Well beloved, when we were children, we faced bullies. For some of us, they are still around, even now. But no matter how much we try, there really is no ‘turning the other cheek’, is there? We may succeed for a time, but there will come a time when we had enough, and we want to win back a bit of ground, our rightful bit of ground.

You know what, for us who believe, we do not need to worry about turning the other cheek. Sure, do that when we can, but Jesus never made it a requirement, a pre-requisite for entry into Heaven. When He was telling the people to turn the other cheek, He was explaining to them what it meant to be perfect. For at the end of that sermon on what really is murder, what really counts as adultery, how we should respond to our enemies, He said that if we did all that,

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

But Jesus never came to call the perfect. Indeed, He said,

“…Those who are strong and well have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick; I came not to call the righteous ones to repentance, but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin).” Mark 2:17 [AMPC]

So, while it is good to want to be perfect, while we should use His perfection to be the rule and yardstick for our lives, there is no need to beat ourselves up when we fail. Jesus never needed us to be perfect on our own steam. He is more than willing to work in us to perfect the work which He started when He created us. That is why the apostle Paul said,

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” Philippians 1:6 [AMPC]

Therefore, when we are faced with bullies, when we are no longer able to hold it in, and we just want to ‘find the weakest one and make him bleed’, we can stand firm on the advice of Paul.

“And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God.” Philippians 1:28 [AMPC]

Yet beloved, did you notice that we are merely asked to not be frightened or intimidated? We are not told to ‘find the weakest one and make him bleed’. Instead, it is more like the brand of ‘passive resistance’ made famous by Ghandi. Stand firm, stand your ground, let them come at you, but do not fight back.

But how can this passive resistance be a clear sign of their impending destruction? This is why.

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21

Understand this, beloved; if your child hits and injures another child in a fight, it will be really difficult for you to argue your child’s case, even if he was not the one who started it, true? But if he did not retaliate, you can use every trick in the book to get back at the other child, and perhaps even his parents. Now, I am not suggesting that our Father is as scheming as we are, or evil in heart; of course not. But remember that we are His children. And no Father likes to see His child hurt. That is why He says,

“Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;” Psalm 91:9-10
“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.” Psalm 91:5-8

So if anyone dares to try and come against you, our Father will act, and He will act swiftly; and that is why our steadfast confidence in His protection is a sign of our enemies’ impending doom. As the verse says, even if God Himself has to come down and fight your fight for you, He will do it. Jesus Fights For You.

Therefore, instead of ‘finding the smallest one and making him bleed’, do this.

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” Philippians 2:12

But wait a minute, so we are not to be afraid of man, but we are to be afraid of God? No beloved, the message Don’t Be Afraid, Know Jesus Well, tells us very clearly that the ‘fear and trembling’ here refers to being in a state of reverent awe at the glory of His presence in our lives. In fact, what the apostle Paul is really saying is this,

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” Philippians 2:12 [NLT]

We are not asked to work hard to gain our salvation. We are asked to work hard to show the results of our salvation; to show off what Jesus has done in our lives after we received Him as our Lord and Savior. And how do we do that? We obey God with deep reverence. And what do we do to obey? Yes, you guessed it,

“And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries,...” Philippians 1:28 [AMPC]

But what if we cannot? Well beloved, we certainly cannot. But He most definitely can. For Jesus tell us,

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

For remember beloved,

“God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12 [NLT]

It is not about how good you are, but it is all about how mightily He is working in your life.

So beloved, remember, the next time a bully comes around, stand firm in Jesus, stand firm on His ground, for He is in you and where He is, is Holy ground. And let Him fight for you.

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