On one of those occasions, Silas and I sat at the table and made a sheepfold full of sheep with construction paper, cotton balls, markers, and glue. The lesson, of course, was “Jesus is the Good Shepherd,” so we also included a shepherd-Jesus and a wolf-Satan. On the tabletop we acted out Jesus protecting the sheep from the wolf.
Not only was I dealing with a four year old, but a four year old boy. As soon as we disposed of the Devil, Silas exclaimed, “Raise him from the dead so Jesus can kill him again!” On that afternoon, the Devil died at least a dozen times. Eventually he stayed dead, but if nothing else, Silas will remember that Jesus can protect us from the Devil. I just hope he also learns when fighting is appropriate and when it isn’t, and that the war a Christian engages in is spiritual in nature.
Some of us have as little discretion as a four year old. God has furnished us with a formidable sword, His Word (Eph 4:17; Heb 4:12). But like Peter, we often wield the wrong sword. While we know better than to hack people to pieces with a real weapon, we stab our interested neighbors in the hearts with brutal barbs and verbally assault the newborn Christians who haven’t had the time to learn everything we think they should have in ten seconds flat. We slash the weak because they are easy prey and instead of sowing the seed among the sinners who need it most, we skewer them with sarcasm and roast them over the coals of a threatened Hell, expecting the Lord to pin a medal of valor on our zealous chests.
Yes, there is a time to swing the sword of the Spirit, especially when the weak and innocent are threatened or when the Lord Himself is affronted, but when we fight just for the sake of fighting, the Devil is winning instead of losing. “Put up your sword into its place,” Jesus told Peter, “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
Be strong and courageous. Take up the sword and fight. But don’t wield the wrong sword at the wrong time for the wrong reason.
And the Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26.