Phyllis Beveridge Nissila.
What prompts this post in the series is something said at a Bible study I recently visited.
It was suggested that when we show the fruit of the spirit in our lives, i.e., “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), it will come back to us “ten fold.”
While I don’t doubt that every Christ-like virtue we mature into and exhibit as we remain close to the Lord and obey His Word will bless us in return at some point, if not immediately, there is an important caveat, in my view, that needs to be addressed, especially these days when anti-Christian hate and bigotry seems to grow by the day.
What I mean is, that as sincere as we are in our dealings with others, they may not “receive” what we are offering.
Some will misunderstand, others will interpret our actions through a cynical lens, and some may reject them outright.
NO FAIRY TALE
In short, given spiritual reality, “this ain’t no Hallmark movie,” we find ourselves in, or some modern fairy tale where they necessarily “lived happily ever after.”
Indeed, we are sent “as lambs among wolves,” as Jesus put it (Luke 10:3–larger context below).
Elsewhere, He warned:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (John 15:18)
I believe all of us are wise to turn up the volume on the Holy Spirit gift of discernment in such a time as this is because we have an enemy that isn’t really the other political party, academia, mainstream news, the woke culture, or even the brutal “isms” (socialism, communism, Marxism, fascism, etc.). Our real enemy is a spirit (aka Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub of a Thousand Faces and Murderous Intent) whose only objective is destruction.
That goes for his minions, too (who may show up in political parties, news organizations, and cultural venues–including churches, see examples below).
And he doesn’t care WHAT fruit we exhibit, real or fake, genuine or manipulative, he just wants God’s creation gone.
So he can take over.
And I suppose what may make him particularly furious is that God is able to not only “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in (Him)” (Isaiah 26:3) but also, as in the life of Joseph, even out of what he (Satan) “intended for evil,” God is able to bring good (Genesis 50:20).
And this is a major deterrent to King Mayhem, for it is through lawlessness, chaos, and anarchy, with its attendant division and destruction, he, Satan, wreaks his best (er, worst), damage.
My point is, if we are not aware that our offering of God’s love and kindness with the expectation of always being rewarded in kind isn’t always what happens in this fallen world, that will make it harder to deal with an increasingly hostile world where certain people, institutions, even Churches may throw us under the bus, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and /or physically.
We might be tempted to despair, give up, even.
So forewarned is forearmed.
Thus to my topic today.
IN THE WORLD AND IN THE SPIRIT
People throw around the terms “narcissist,” “sociopath,” “psychopath,” and worse on a daily basis when trying to make sense of, or figure out how to deal with, some of the behaviors at large in today’s the world that illustrate that civilization is in serous danger. I will add one more term cited in the video, below: “narcissistic supply“.
These are, of course, secular terms to attempt to shed light on some of the lawlessness and violence taking place, much of it aided and betted by those who want to fundamentally transform the entire globe into some kind of new world order (one leader, government, economy, and religion--as prophesied, actually, though secular “promoters” may not be aware of this and what it really means).
In the spiritual realm the same kind of people operate under labels such as “rebellious,” “double-minded,” “wicked,” “foolish,” and, at worst, “demon possessed.”
The world offers much good advice in dealing with such individuals.*
But the Church has more, or should have more, to offer. (Note: not all, however, have come up to God-speed, as it were, on this matter. See end notes for some Church leaders, counselors, and survivors, who have.**).
The Bible includes innumerable warnings about how the evil ones, or to a lesser degree, the confused, brain-washed, or mind controlled ones, behave as well and how to deal with them because God’s Word takes the whole assault operation to its core level: good versus evil.
The Book of Proverbs, for example, is filled with such good advice. In every chapter.
Whereas secular therapy offers ways to reognize the red flags and how to de-escalate abusive situations and escape them, the Bible hits the foundation head on. Here are the effective “weapons” in the higher realm of the spirit:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
But also note: Jesus gave plenty of practical advice for those heading into possible enemy territory:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:1-12)
IN THE REALITY OF GOOD AND EVIL
Thus, to suggest that if a believer does his or her best to “show fruit” it naturally follows that goodness will be received and be given back is to perhaps not fully understand that we have a very real and malevolent enemy of whom it is said:
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
I am reminded especially of those who are under the influence of some teachers in the Church who promote certain non-Biblical philosophies that have mushroomed in the last forty years, or so, such as the “seeker friendly” movement (ask the people what they want in a church and give it to them instead of following the protocols in the Bible for corporate fellowship which could be as few as “two or more” believers gathered in Jesus’ name), and the Word of Faith, aka “name it and claim it,” movement (you create your own reality by saying selected words from the Bible mixed with the right amount of faith).
These leave little room for the truth about God’s sovereignty, not to mention His Word in context, if you think about it, and much room for blaming ourselves if we don’t succeed by being friendly enough or by saying the right words with enough faith.
And wouldn’t he-of-a-thousand-lies like us to be discouraged and defeated by THOSE ideas?!
Not to mention all the money that is often spent by seekers and claimers hoping to live in health and wealth (like many of the proponents of these philosophies live), by giving tithes or “seed money” to fund a plethera of seeker/claimer programs, plans, purposes–and promoter pocketbooks.
WHAT THE JAMES’ SAID
I like to go to the source of instruction and practical illustrations provided by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel narratives and commentaries to show us how to deal with challenging people and situations.
One such modern day commenter, James Smith, featured in the brief, novel presentation below, offers, in my view, both good instruction and examples of how (and why) Jesus dealt the way he did with narcissists, narcissism being a root cause of so much evil in the world and in people’s lives.
Smith includes the following advice for when one discerns he or she has come up against such a controlling, manipulative–even dangerous–individual:
- step back
- be short (in your reponse) yet be peaceful
- choose your words carefully without over-sharing
- change the topic if needed
- don’t give these people (narcissistic) supply
- save your energy for something more important…”
From the Book of (the other) James in the Bible, note these excerpts for another spiritual and practical overview:
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. […]
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (from chapter 5)
In short, as much as we continue to grow in the love of the Lord and endeavor to exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it might sometimes feel as if we have failed by the reactions of others who, after all, have their own free will to accept or reject our efforts.
Thus we are well-served by being aware of the ever-constant battle between good and evil, by excercising discernment in our position in it, and by remembering, “it ain’t over yet,” as they say.
And let the comforting words of St. Paul, who suffered considerable persecution back in his day, speaks to us today, too, through his letter to the Galatians:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (6:9)
It just might not be “down here”.
Resources for victims of narcissistic and other kinds of abuse.
*Secular agencies, books, and services:
Also highly recommended: books by Patricia Evans on Verbally Abusive and Controlling people: Amazon.com: Patricia Evans: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle.
**Christian resources for narcissistic and other kinds of abuse:
I also highly recommend the blog and books of Cindy Burrell, who has posted numerous articles from the Christian perspective on domestic abuse and recovery. Her site, book list, and contact information is: Hurtbylove
Hopefully these resources will serve as a sufficient start to, or continuation of, your own research, as needed.