I am a fighter. I have said this before and will probably say it again. Anyone who knows me knows this to be 100% true. One of my nicknames in High School was WONDER WOMAN – for a reason. While I do not fight physically, I do stand up for what I believe & for those I love – I fight to defend Truth. I do not shy away from battles, but dive into conflict and fight. However in recent months God has been revealing to me that not all battles are meant to be fought — by me: Not every single battle is mine to fight.
This reality hit me hard as I was reading Matthew’s Gospel this week where Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with the disciples. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss and the soldiers go to arrest him. What happens next is not really a surprise to most of us “fighters”, as we would most likely do the same. One of the disciples attempts to stop the arrest by drawing a sword. Check out verses 51-54:
51 At that moment one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will provide me here and now with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”
Not exactly shocking, right? One of the disciples jumps in to defend Jesus. Makes sense! EXCEPT for one thing: Jesus did not ask to be defended, and he definitely did not need it.
This caused me to stop and think about the battles I have fought (or currently am fighting). How many times do I fight battles Jesus never intended me to fight? How many battles have I stepped into uninvited and un-needed. How many times have I drawn my sworn, ready to fight, to fix, to defend, to win — but Jesus never asked me to pull out that sword! Instead I did it of my own volition, effort, or desire. My plan was to fight the battle, defend someone or something, fix something broke – to get it done! MY PLAN! (not God’s)
My plan is to defend, to fight – but why? Who asked me to fight the battle? Is this a battle Jesus asked me to fight or is it one he is already fighting for me? (winning by the way) God is our Defender in the same way he was for Israel as they fled from the Egyptians, when he parted the Red Sea to save them. Remember that? God fought FOR his people – he fought the battle and won in a way they never could have on their own!
Jesus tells his defender that his sword is opposed to the fulfillment of Scripture- to God’s Will. He reminds us that our way interferes with God’s way if we are trying to fight when God himself is not asking us to fight. We have to ask: Is God calling me to rise up and fight or is he commanding me to be still and wait on him. Is it my fight or His?
Our way is not God’s way, the prophet Isaiah declares the great difference between our ways and thoughts, and those of God. Just as Jesus teaches us here that sometimes the Will of God must be done in a way we don’t understand, and at times our fighting can even get in the way, so we are simply asked to BE STILL.
The Bottom Line: if we are going to pull out a sword to fight we better be sure it is Jesus himself who gave us that sword and asked us to defend and fight — otherwise we are fighting against the will of God.
Of course we have to use discernment and ask important questions: How do we know when to fight and when to put the sword away? What battles are mine and what are His?
We need to responsibly discern and seek God’s direction by asking:
- What is my motive for fighting this battle? If I examine my own reason for fighting I will probably discover whether it is my battle or God’s. When I let God have control over my heart, my mind, my plans – through humility I will find His way over my own.
- Does it hold up against the Word of God? I am always called to defend Truth to an extent but not always in the same way. Israel was told to be still and let God fight the Egyptians but then later they were sent into battle to take the Promised Land. What in Scripture speaks into my present day situation?
Now one thing we can do is let this text remind us that we don’t see it all – we don’t know it all. The Father’s will is not our will and we do not get the whole picture like Jesus does. We must intentionally acknowledge this daily. Paul tells us that we only see part of the picture here on earth – we don’t have the view from eternity that God alone has. So sometimes we want to grab that sword and fight, defend, but God might have a different plan – one we don’t want to be working against!
So while in the moment our sword, our fight, seems necessary – it might not be our battle to wage. How many times is Jesus saying to us,
“put your sword back in its place . . . .or do you not think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will provide me here and now with more than twelve legions of angels?”
God has more than he needs to fight your battles – so let him fight them. Put your sword away and let God’s plan in your life be fulfilled. Battle with prayer, declare his Victory – which is now yours. But dont fight battles you were not meant to fight. Let Jesus handle those. Be still, and step into the Victory that Jesus has already won for you.