Devotional–Stop! Do Not Retaliate! From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
Every day we face spiritual warfare. The conflict with our spouse, children, or coworker, the disappointment of a situation that has gone wrong despite our best efforts, or the unexpected–waking up to a flat tire or sudden illness has many living on the edge. Yet the number one disruption to our peace is the person who intentionally says something to offend us without remorse.
Our societies have declined to the point where morals, values, and the truth are defined according to how a person feels. And to add fuel to the fire, the current worldview is to express exactly what you are thinking. Yes, verbalizing the truth with brutal and razor-sharp delivery is considered a strength. The influencers have promoted and convinced many that speaking the truth according to how one feels provides mental and emotional cleansing. Although the other person may be hurt or offended, the speaker did what they had to, and no apology is necessary.
But inappropriate emotionally charged words reveal the individual’s character defects of the absence of discipline, self-control, and compassion for others. We have progressed to a world environment of anger and hostility. Due to life’s stressors, many are overwhelmed by the constant changes and losses in their personal and professional lives. Despite their best efforts, many are at the breaking point because their lives are out of control, so they hurt others with unkind words.
Unbelievers have worsened and many believers have adopted worldly standards by allowing unholy emotions to replace a Christ-like character.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5
In the Holy Scriptures, God has provided righteous standards for believers when we are dealing with the spiritual warfare of conflict with harsh words. First, we must recognize that Satan is tempting us to retaliate and sin with words from our mouths. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
S–Silence is the best option
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Remember, Jesus used silence with His accusers.
T–Terminate the conversation
God has gifted us with emotions. Yes, vicious words are always hurtful [and will easily stir up anger], especially from family and friends. If the person has escalated, they are not in the right frame to converse with. With face-to-face conflict, turn and walk away. If speaking on cell, texting, or video chatting, respond with “I have to go now, have a blessed day” and disengage the call, texting, or video chatting.
O–Opportunity for reconciliation [or retreat]
The opportunity for reconciliation is only possible if both people have not escalated. Do they show visible signs of being upset? If no, then listen with the intent to resolve the source of the conflict. Offer to pray with the family member or friend before attempting to resolve the conflict. If it is a coworker or stranger, pray a silent prayer.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, But the heart of the fool does not do so. (Proverbs 15:1, 7).
Retreat immediately If during the conversation, you feel your emotions escalating or the person speaking begins to escalate, either walk away or if on an electronic device, simply let them know that you are ending the conversation and to have a blessed day. If possible, when both people are calm and rational, make another attempt to resolve all issues using healthy communication. There are also words spoken in anger to end a relationship. If that is the case, then accept their decision and move forward in your healing journey.
P–Pray for Divine Intervention
As a disciple of Christ, we will face spiritual warfare every day. Satan cannot read our minds, but he and his evil angels can observe our outward behaviors. If you harbor a spirit of offense, you will be upset every day of the year. Study and memorize Galatians 5:22-23. The apostle Paul tells us the characteristics [the Fruit of the Spirit] that every believer of the Most-High God is required to possess to receive eternal life. Prayer and humility are our only options against Satan’s deceptions.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13).
S Silence is the best option
T Terminate the conversation
O Opportunity for reconciliation or retreat
P Pray for Divine Intervention
Prayer: Lord, we pray for our hearts to be filled with agape love and to possess the Fruit of the Spirit. We ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, self-control, wisdom, and discernment. In Jesus’ name, we claim the life of a victorious overcomer. Amen.