I am writing this letter out of love, specifically to brothers, to plead with you to endure to the end. It isn’t that sisters don’t share the same battle with the flesh, for we all are tempted and drawn away of our own lusts and enticed, but I am unable to speak from a sister’s perspective as to the issues that are encountered on a daily basis. However, as a brother and a male, I can speak of the daily struggle that challenges and wages war against our faithful walk.
There is a Christian challenge that has been developed to help with relationships (especially ones that are struggling) called “The Love Dare”. The twenty-third of these dares you: “Eliminate the parasites”. A parasite is anything that eats away at your ability to love your God, your wife, or your family. Parasites are typically addictive and can include gambling, alcohol, pornography, gaming and sports. Parasites have the ability to consume our thoughts, passion, money and faith. The challenge is this: “Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that’s stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse (or your Heavenly Father).”
This challenge is not new. The influences of the world have a way of latching on to us, burdening our walk to the Kingdom. Hence the reason we are told in Hebrews 12 to “lay aside every weight, the sin that so easily besets us.” At the time that this was written, Roman soldiers would spend many months away from home, traveling from conquest to conquest. They would have in their packs all their personal effects, reminders of home, and souvenirs. As they went into battle, they would leave this pack behind as it was too heavy and cumbersome to fight with. Brothers, we have a lot of opportunity to collect items in our pack; the challenge is to put them down and leave them behind, if they are holding us back.
What’s in your pack that has to go? It might be the television or the subscription to that online gaming site. It might be the email account or the Playstation controller. It might be the stash of images stored on a flash drive, or it might be the BlackBerry. What is it that is consuming you and hindering you from following Christ? What is throwing you off balance as you walk to the Kingdom? Is it worth it?
When we get to the end of the book of Joshua, we see that the children of Israel are exhausted. Emotionally, they had finished fighting all the ‘ites’ who would hinder their faith. They just wanted to put their feet up, relax and recharge. But they weren’t done fighting! Seven tribes hadn’t even taken their inheritance yet. They had become slack in their quest to live in the land of promise. The warning is there for us in our daily fight. We too can become battle-weary. We can get exhausted and develop the mindset: ‘I just want to come home and crash. I want to sink into my comfortable chair, switch on the media device of my choice, and allow the challenges of the day to wash away.’ Brothers, we are inviting the very influences of the world, and the ideas we should be battling, into our thoughts. We are inviting those “parasites” to latch onto us.
Joshua warned the children of Israel (and it is a warning for us too) to destroy the world’s influence or risk being destroyed by it (Josh 23:3-13). Listen to what we are being told: God will fight for you and will drive the enemies out of your life. But note verses 12 and 13:
“Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations… know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”
If we are unwilling to fight, then God will stop fighting for us. If we are unwilling to push out of our lives, our homes, and our environments all the parasites attacking our faith, then God won’t fight for us either. In fact we read that:
- “they will be snares and traps to us” (the pride of life);
- “they will be scourges in our sides” (the lust of the flesh); and
- “they will be thorns in our eyes” (the lust of the eyes) —
— until we perish.
Brothers, we can relate to the traps in our lives and the scourges in our sides, and we can certainly relate to the thorns in our eyes. If we want to eradicate these influences in our lives, God will help, but we have to take the first step — in faith. We have to eliminate the parasites of our faith! Remember, Hebrews 12 instructs us to lay aside the weight that besets us, but we are also told that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Depend on your fellow soldiers in Christ; lean on each other in times of weakness.
Brothers, I write this not because I have defeated the flesh, because I haven’t. I write this because, like you, I am battle-weary, and in my efforts to glorify my God I trip and stumble. I need help, just like you do, and just like the rest of our brothers. Together in faithful prayer, God will strengthen us and fight for us. The battle is almost over, the darkness of this night is about to be chased away by the bright rays of light as the Sun of Righteousness rises from the east with healing in his wings. So let us all run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Love in the only hope,
Your fellow servant,
John Mark Ghent (Toronto West, ON)