By Charlie Johnston
“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”
-1 Peter 5:8
When an enemy comes to assault your castle, he does not attack where your fortifications are strongest. He finds the weak spots and mounts his assault there. Therefore, set the heaviest guard where your defenses are weakest without neglecting your fortifications.
The devil is on the prowl. He has already taken most of those castles which are weakly or indifferently fortified. Now he seeks the vulnerable spots in those castles which are well fortified, that he may take or disable them from the confrontation at hand.
Call things by their proper name. If you say that what is evil is actually good – or even neutral, you open your soul to assault. If you say that what is good is actually evil, you do the same. But make your denunciations with fear and trembling, for if you declare to be evil that which is actually just mistaken or errant, you blast open a wall of your castle, allowing the devil access to your stronghold.
Do not shrink from confrontation for fear of being wrong. Even saints have sometimes battled other saints without either of them sinning – and sometimes with neither being right. You can enter the lists with an opponent without sinning. But if you cannot engage in contention with another without inflaming yourself with frenzied malice against them, it is better that you refrain altogether – and offer prayer for those involved in the battle while binding up their wounds when the battle is finished.
Even in matters of intrinsic evil, leave some room for the repentance of those who commit it, without compromising with the evil, itself. Where intrinsic evil is not involved, it is the intention behind the act that makes it either errant or evil. To intentionally seek the harm of an innocent is evil. To impose your will by force on a matter that is otherwise licit on others is evil. To use your profession of faith as a means to oppress others and aggrandize yourself is not only evil, but stinks of blasphemy.
Take great care in how you judge these things, for with the judgment you judge, so shall you be judged. If you are quick to judge others’ errors as a matter of greed, of envy, of lust or a thirst for power, then when you stand in judgment, the Lord shall impute the same motives to your errors and failings. Your pride that you are not like other men, but better, holier and nobler will be the source of your own fall. Hold fast to Christ.
Battle manfully and with resolve, but do not be miserly in sharing the mercy the Lord has given you in abundance. If you are, you will not conquer your opponent; you will give yourself over to the lion who wants to devour you.
I have told you true.