Have you ever gotten caught in the middle of a fraught situation you have no control over? Warring family members, tense work situations, romantic entanglements or even close friend groups all provide perilous pitfalls for the innocent bystander. Sheer proximity or naïve ignorance pulls you into the fray. There’s a reason they call it collateral damage. You only have to make the mistake of sincere attempts at peacemaking a couple of times to learn some prudence, and walk warily.
Unless you are the narcissistic diva constantly stirring up the drama (of which there are plenty), most of life places us in areas of indirect influence. Opinions may be asked, but when someone has already made up their minds, let’s face it, our impact is minimal. This is when the authority of character actually kicks in, which may be why the Bible has so much to say about it.
Let’s get real. Who wants to excel at patience, longsuffering, forbearance or endurance? Who loves being humble, moderate, gentle or kindly in the face of rudeness and undeserved provocation? That’s no way to show strength! It gratifies our flesh to fight fire with fire and repent afterwards of our fleshly shortcomings. Who really wants to be the wingman? The armourbearer?
Lately, I find myself in a surfeit of situations where bad behavior is abounds in every direction but there seems no power to move the needle closer to good. When you deal with strongholds of pride and perversity, change is slow. I’m ready to sign up for primeval scream therapy.
The next time you find yourself pinned down in the crossfire, frustrated and demeaned, please remember: You are not a loser. You are, in fact, God’s Agent of Grace in Place. A 007 of righteousness, if you will. Should you choose to accept your mission, no one who carries the resurrection power of Jesus within themselves can ever really be silenced or ineffective. But discipleship demands restraint, waiting for the turning point when wisdom and integrity can have their greatest impact.
Consider some of God’s previous undercover agents. There’s Jael, the housewife quietly minding her own business when the war came stampeding into her tent (Judges 5). Though it was the last thing in the world she was expecting, she took out the captain of the enemy army, Sisera, with a tent peg. The great Syrian warrior, Naaman, found his healing, and ended the war with Israel because he heard and heeded the simple advice of a little Jewish girl taken captive to his house (2 Kings 5). And don’t forget about the phenomenal, intrepid Abigail, who ran out to intercept the incensed David before blood was shed. He says the smartest thing anyone caught up in the heat of the moment ever did, when he recognizes her role in saving him from impetuous tragedy that would have haunted him.
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. For indeed, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!” 1 Samuel 25:32-35
I know, I know. It’s a tough and thankless gig to be GAOGIP. Most of it is learning to keep your mouth shut, control your attitude and temper your opinion. The real warfare happens in the prayer closet. And to put the final icing on the cake, very, very few people have the transparency, emotional awareness or humility David exhibited when he gave Abigail the credit that was due. When was the last time your husband acknowledged your calm, sage intervention? When did your sibling praise you for talking them down off the ledge, yet again? Did your boss ever credit you for a brilliant idea instead of covertly claiming it as his own? Even if you manage to be a successful agent of the Almighty, don’t expect any fanfare. Occasionally, another mature saint might quietly honor your efforts, but most of the time, gratification will have to come from the Lord’s testimony of approval in our own hearts.
It’s hard for us to give up our primitive impulse to glory. If we have to be in the thick of the action, we prefer some control. It’s one of Christ’s hardest disciplines, this dying to self. Nowhere does it happen faster than in the arena of relationships, so brace for impact.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another. Colossians 3:12-13
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