Seven, Seven, Seven, Yes, Yes
Several months ago a group of college students came to visit us. Around the breakfast table we started talking about spiritual warfare. That led to a long discussion about how Satan attacks us in multiple ways, that he rarely hits us head on, that he attacks from many directions at once, with the ultimate goal of discouraging us. And that led to comments from various team members about how they had been struggling with discouragement. From there we talked about the importance of sticking close to our brothers and sisters who are in the battle with us, that if a soldier gets separated from his squad, he's in big trouble. A young man spoke up who told us something he learned while serving with the Marines in Iraq. During his tour of duty he was stationed in Fallujah, scene of some of the worst fighting. His sergeant used to tell them, "Two is one, one is none, and if you are by yourself, you're done." When the time comes to go to battle, you can't wander off on your own of you'll soon be in big trouble. But "two is one" if you stick together. And "one is none" if you don't. That's excellent advice for the spiritual battles we all face. Remember, if Satan can discourage you, he's already won the battle. Don't fight him alone. Stay tight with your brothers and sisters because two is one, and one is none when you fight against the enemy of your soul.
This is always important, but never more so than when we are under spiritual attack. We are stronger together than we are alone. We can stand strong when we stand together. The Greeks understood this principle when they developed the phalanx in 700 BC. By massing armed soldiers closely together, they multiplied their effectiveness as a fighting force. Standing shoulder to shoulder with shields raised provided protection from enemy attack. Yet if one of those soldiers was separated from the phalanx, he became an easy target.
"Two is one, one is none, and if you are by yourself, you're done."
Solomon reminds us of this truth in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (The Message):
It's better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there's no one to help, tough!
Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.
By yourself you're unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
We need each other more than we know. When we are suddenly attacked, if we are alone, it is easy to be discouraged and feel like giving up. But if we know that others are cheering for us and are there to help us, we can find the strength to keep on going even in the worst of times. I ate supper recently with Duke Heller, a friend from Columbus, Ohio who leads a weekly men's Bible study. Part of their accountability involves five specific commitments. If a man has successfully completed them, he will be able to say "Seven, Seven, Seven, Yes, Yes." That means he has spent . . .
Seven minutes a day in prayer.
Seven minutes reading his Bible.
Seven minutes reading the book the group is studying.
Yes, he contacted his accountability partner in the group.
Yes, he attempted to start a Kingdom conversation.
The men are paired off and agree to contact each other weekly to ask these questions:
1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?
2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
3. Have you intentionally exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
4. Have you lusted after any woman other than your wife with your eyes or thoughts?
5. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
6. Have you given priority time to your family?
7. Have you handled hurt and frustration well this week?
8. Have you just lied to me?
Then there are two final questions:
1) Have you started a kingdom conversation this week? Tell me about it.
2) Have you prayed daily for the people God has laid it on your heart to witness to in the near future?
(See How to Start a Kingdom Conversation for many excellent suggestions.)
Every day we have important choices to make, but there is one choice we don't have. The invisible war rages all around us whether we see it or not. All of us are soldiers on the front lines of spiritual combat. Not only is our enemy cunning, he is also much smarter than we are. And he doesn't fight fair. He waits for a weak moment when we are unprepared, and then he pounces on us. Then we wonder why we are defeated yet again. But it doesn't have to be that way. God has provided all the resources necessary for you to win the battle for your soul. It won't be easy or automatic, and you can't do it alone, but if you take up the weapons God supplies, and if you lean hard on your Christian friends, if you give thanks when you feel like giving up, you will find that real victory is possible in the thousand daily skirmishes and the occasional big battles you face.
You can reach the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.