Updated: Mar 22, 2021
In Part 1 I discussed some reasons why we all need a Godly Response Plan (GRP) to manage oppositionists’ attacks. I also stated the most important element in the GRP is learning about and practicing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
In this writing I both help put meat on the bones of and complicate our godly responses by presenting many more recommendations. These are necessary to help us plan ahead and prevent us from being taken by surprise and, thereby, responding ineffectively, or worse, inciting retribution. Although these suggestions are to be used in relating to oppositionists, they apply to all our relational interactions.
Since the below list is not comprehensive, I strongly encourage you to include your thoughts and Scriptures to make this plan your own. Here are my relational recommendations to be included in a GRP:
✪ We are to expect hardship, persevere, and fight the good fight of keeping our faith. To help us do this we are to consider ourselves as already dead. So, going into battle, we have nothing to lose. We are readied to follow the Lord no matter what. Reckoning ourselves as crucified helps us let go of this world and control our instinct to physically survive at any cost (1 Pet 4:1; Gal 2:20; Mk 8:35).
✪ Central to interacting with others in the world is daily being prepared for warfare by putting on the armor of God (Eph 6:10-18). Our weapons of warfare are defensive, not offensive. They help us “stand firm” against all spiritual and personal attacks of Satan and people under his influence and control. Our weapons are truth, righteousness, a gospel of peace, faith, the hope of salvation, Scripture, and prayer.
✪ Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We need to oppose the lies and distortions of oppositionists by speaking the truth in love and kindness.
✪ Speak the truth boldly (Act 4:31). Boldness is an act of courage and an antidote for fear.
✪ Bless those who persecute you and do not curse them (Rom 12:14).
✪ Love your enemy and pray for them (Mt 5:44). As previous said, there is nothing more fundamental to any GRP than than the Fruit of the Spirit and that of agape love. This love is qualified in the last blog, Part 1.
✪ Be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit (Act 10:44). This verse and several others in Scripture do not refer to the Person of the Spirit, even though it is often interpreted and written as “the Holy Spirit”. Because there is no capital “S”, but only a small “s”, the use of the Greek to help us determine Person from “power from on high” is a judgment call. The distinction is important.
✪ God has revealed that in the end times some of us will be called in front of those in authority. We are told not to prepare what words we will speak. The Holy Spirit will give us the words (Lu 12:11-12) as we place our trust in Him.
✪ We remember to support those brothers and sisters of faith, especially those who are not as strong or resilient (Rom 15:1; Phil 2:4; Eph 6:18).
✪ Search the Scriptures and contemporary writings that lend to understanding our enemy’s tactics. The enemy is two-tiered. We first learn all we can about our present-day oppositionists (tactics, talking points, etc.). Second, we learn about Satan and his army of angels who influence and control oppositionists and try to oppress and destroy us. Like the armor of God in Ephesians, any strategies we develop are to be defensive only, not offensive.
✪ I find useful the idea that people respond to a perceived threat by what has been called, “fight or flight.” To that commonly known view I add another response—“ flow”, which is going along with the currents of resistance or here-and-now threats. Jesus took flight in refusing to walk in Judea because others there were seeking His death (John 7:1). Jesus stands his ground to fight by speaks hard truths to hypocritical Pharisees (Mt 23:27). And many times Jesus flowed with present circumstances. We see Him flowing with being arrested, in conversation with Pilate, and in not calling on His Father to save Him from crucifixion. He always flowed with His Father’s will.
✪ We do not ignore or defend against our own troubling emotions. Such a position serves only to lock in those emotions, which will further disrupt our peace and influence impulsive reactions in the future. Possessing and expressing the fruit of the Spirit does not mean we do not enter into conflict with others, are never angry, can never express our disappoints, sorrows, fears, etc. Proverbs 27:17 says iron sharpens iron, implying that sparks will fly when two or more people square off in truthful conversation. Paul revealed his struggles with various troubling feelings, such as fears, sorrows, and depression (2 Cor 7:5-6). Jesus was far from being stoic (Mt 17:17; Lu 22:44; Jn 11:35). God does not saddle us with the truly unbearable burden of perpetual calmness and unemotionality.
✪ We do not provoke others, although we allow God’s truth to provoke as it may. Our unrighteous antagonizations can cause others to devalue and reject our good messages and actions of peace, love, hope, and His salvation. They may very well discount our words no matter how we respond, but we cannot give them a reason to respond negatively.
✪ We do not engage in the deeds of the flesh—quarrels, disputes, divisions, outbursts of anger, etc. (Gal 5:19-21). Rebukes and confrontations of truth, not opinions or personal preferences, are a different matter.
✪ We “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt 7:6). This often misunderstood verse speaks to us about discerning whether people are worthy or unworthy, wise or foolish, and open or closed to new truths. We can only know whether or not to give others the gift of precious words of truth by assessing their behavior. Today, the common theology of Christians is to share spiritual truths with anyone when they have or take the opportunity. In my 40 plus years of being a Christian, I have never heard anyone preach on the issue of using discernment in determining to whom and who not to speak about the things of God. But that is just what this verse is telling us to do.
✪ With hardcore oppositionists, we properly maintain an emotional distance and are cautious of engagement. Why? Because Scripture warns us, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’”, meaning we need to protect ourselves from the influence of evil and those that practice it (1 Cor 15:33). Hardcore oppositionists’ own mental ill-health, hatred, violence, and unreasonable demands, such as defund all police departments in America, will grossly interfere with attempts to unite us and to bring peace. Such people support lawlessness, despise righteousness, and love violence and chaos (Rom 1:28-31). There can be no true, wholesome compromise. Any proposed agreement may have the appearance of compromise, but it will likely be viewed only as a stepping stone to their ultimate self-satisfying, deceptive plans and advancement of their agenda. I think this because Scripture is clear, there are people bent on evil, blinded to truth, and gladly held in the power of Satan. As time moves on we will see more of these evils reign when truth is suppressed, deception becomes common place, and Satan’s discussions with God cease when he is cast out of heaven. (Rev 12:7-10).
✪ There are people with whom we avoid initiating interaction. Jesus went to where sinners live (not the self-proclaimed righteous). Those sinners were at least somewhat open to instruction, correct, and truth of the gospel. But Jesus did not approach the religious or governmental leaders during his ministry. He only responded to the few who initiated communication. Similarly, we would do well to adopt Jesus’ protocol of only responding to oppositionist’s questions directed to us and to their false statements by speaking the truth, certainly not to correct them, but to expose, as Jesus did, who they are and what they are doing. Jesus confronted the Pharisees’ hypocrisy and said they were white-washed tombs who were of their father the devil. And their evil prevented not only themselves from entering heaven but others as well (Mt 23:13).
✪ ✪We are cautious not to become overly distracted (a tactic used by Satan and people) by becoming so deeply involved or obsessed with thinking about and responding to oppositionists. In being distracted, one may fail to fulfill God’s individual calling and/or general calling to edify fellow Christians and carry out the Great Commission (making disciples, baptizing, and teaching the things of God). Also, be aware, one can use this avoidance defensively—rationalizing why remaining silent or keeping great distance is the right thing to do. Lastly, do no be distracted from dwelling on the prize of our salvation and God’s rewards. They keep us focused on the joy of what’s coming from God and not on the terror, which the enemy tells us is coming from them.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information and time required to complete your own GRP. However, I appeal to you to take strength and finish what you began by reading about a GRP, just as God will finish the work He has started in you (Phil 1:6).
Think about the need for preparation that we find in the story of Jesus. At 12 years old Jesus was teaching the teachers. But the Father continued His preparation to the age of 30. Then, Jesus was in ministry for only 3 years. Thirty years of preparation for three years of work, and He was God and the Father spoke with Him directly. How much more do we need to prepare?
May God help us all walk in the Spirit, be a good testimony to the world, and bring glory to God until the time we meet Him face-to-face. That glorious homecoming day is coming soon.