Contending in the Faith

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: But such as keep the law contend with them. Proverbs 28:4

One of the reasons we sometimes find ourselves in shooting wars, where all the questions about pacifism naturally arise, is because we have previously acquiesced in another more subtle form of pacifism. That is the kind of pacifism that does not want to dispute, or challenge, or debate. Our current culture seems to have little appetite for meaningful discourse on points of contention. Often the poor soul that attempts to engage in a reasonable debate is either dishing out or receiving ad hominem attacks by the end of round one. Admittedly, this tendency doesn’t foster much of a desire to engage- it seems easier not to.  We in our complacency want to think that “debates settle nothing,” which is not really true at all. We sometimes think we are being peacemakers when we are only being lazy. Notice what this proverb says.

Contending the Law?

There is a group of people that forsakes the law of God, and as a result of this forsaking, they praise the wicked. In fact, the very act of forsaking the law is a praise of the wicked. This sets the stage for a conflict, which happens because those who keep the law contend with them. It is likely that the righteous contend with both groups—those who forsake the law and consequently praise the wicked, and also the wicked. The verb “contend” means to oppose, to strive against, to challenge in court, or even to wage war.

David and Goliath

There are many manifestations of wickedness on display in our generation, and it appears to many Christians that these manifestations have grown to the point where the opposition would be fruitless. But David could have said that about Goliath, but in faith, he did not. He could have reacted to Goliath the same way the rest of the Israelite army did—but he refused. So the first point to make is that just because the wickedness has grown to a great size, is no reason for refusing to face it. But a lesson should be drawn from all of this. Most of the rampant evils we are looking at today would have been much easier to defeat had we just contended with them as soon as the law was initially forsaken.

Small weeds, as pesky as they may be,  are easier to uproot than large ones.  We don’t want to be those Christians who refuse to engage because the wickedness is “too small,”; and then later refuse to engage because it has grown “too big.”  When it comes to wickedness, indeed there are many giants in the land. These giants started out very small and were consequently ignored as insignificant, but they grew up.  We have two options now, really. We can remain complacent and cower off the battlefield while muttering under our breath that the giants and dragons are too much for us to face. Or we can be realistic about these wicked enemies, remember the promises of God, and realize that these are exactly the types of battles that God loves to win.  So, “Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate”.

“This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget. That though the wrong Seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world – The battle is not done – Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and Heav’n be one.”

Brandon Elixson – Pastor and Elder, Grace Life Church of Lake City