For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 WEB)
Although it may appear so, scripture says that our Christian struggle is not with people. Sure, there are people we may have problems with, whom we might consider unfriendly, or even evil that we definitely have to deal with. And there are people and situations that we have to avoid in this spiritual walk.
But many people are kind. Many have been kind to me over the years. And I have seen and heard innumerable accounts of people being kind to others. Kindness is being useful to someone, helping them in some way. I have been on the receiving end of many kindnesses. And I don’t just mean by upright Christians. I have been helped by all colors and creeds, male and female. Agnostics, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and more, male and female, with all colors of skin have helped me with different things all my life.
Nice means to be pleasant, or agreeable. Usually, these people that helped were very nice, very friendly. And I have seen many people being nice to other people. There are many nice people in the world.
I bring this up because I have been looking at unbelievers a lot in these articles lately. Scripture talks about unbelievers as being the children of disobedience under the influence of the god of this world. Scripture talks about the serious sins that unbelievers get caught up in. There are warnings in Scripture against being unequally yoked with unbelievers and how evil friendships corrupt good morals. There are warnings in Scripture to avoid even believers who teach divisive doctrines. It is all true and it is not a pretty picture if that is all you look at.
But we must never forget that there are many nice, kind people in the world. People have given me help in times of need; pushing my car, shoveling my walk, giving me rides, caring medical and professional help. People have shared friendly greetings, smiles, and words of encouragement. People have shared their cars and houses with me. People have shared garden vegetables, loaned tools, hospitality, gave a helping hand, helped me move, given presents during holidays, given me money, and more.
It is true that the Bible says that no one is righteous without Jesus Christ. The Bible says that believers who walk in the spirit are righteous. But they are only righteous by the grace of God and by what Jesus accomplished for us. Believers are just like all the unbelievers in that without Jesus we could never be good enough to stand in the presence of God which is what both the current situation and the end game is all about. We want to be with Jesus in the presence of God for eternity. We believe the Scriptures that tell us that Jesus accomplished that for us, that while we were yet sinners, he paid the price that we could be made righteous.
That is something I know that I, and many others, need to remember when we talk about “unbelievers”. So, of the many people who have helped me over the years in many ways, I am talking about people who were Jews, Muslims, agnostics, Buddhists, and other faiths. I’m talking about people who practiced all kinds of unscriptural behaviors; free love, living together unmarried, and homosexuality. I’m talking about people that may have used illegal drugs and/or drank too much on a regular basis, lied and other things. Those are just examples. The kindnesses of these people are of the kinds listed above. Thank you all, kind people.
Scripture teaches to be thankful in all things and that includes the things I am writing about here.
In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you. (1Th 5:18 WEB)
Being thankful for everything includes being thankful for people.
Jesus ate and drank with sinners. The implication is that he ate their food and drank their wine, accepting their hospitality and spending time with them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he arose and followed him. He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many, and they followed him. The scribes and the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mar 2:14-17 WEB)
There is a sermon in there about how we are ambassadors for Christ and are called to do the same. Notice that when he was with them the topics included things of the kingdom of God and Jesus held forth the truth. Jesus’ point is that his mission, our mission, is to call people to repent of unrighteousness and join the kingdom.
Part of this article also is that being nice and/or being kind isn’t enough to gain entrance to eternal life with Jesus. These sinners were kind enough to invite Jesus to dinner. Jesus still called them to repentance. No one can be good enough on their own.
that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10 WEB)
There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!” (Act 4:12 WEB)
Jesus is the only way to be made whole and have eternal life. Being nice and kind unfortunately isn’t good enough.
An emphasis of this message in standing against our adversary is that we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood. The whole time that we are looking at this formidable domain of Satan a key point is that harming all people is the goal of Satan. Yes, Satan is aiming to harm us but unbelievers are also harmed: robbed, killed, and destroyed. It may feel like it is people that we are fighting against but the real enemy is the devil.
The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (Joh 10:10 WEB)
Scripture says that the devil has blinded unbelievers into following his snares.
in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. (2Co 4:4 WEB)
Unbelievers sincerely don’t see what we believe. Likewise, even for believers who believe divisive doctrines. Especially today, none of us have an exceptionally sharp picture.
So, all are to be loved, believers and unbelievers. They all can be kind. Not that they always are, of course. And even those who oppose you directly are people we are called to love. Believers are called to even love their enemies!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Mat 5:43-48 WEB)
It may look confusing. Avoid sinful companions. Love your enemies. Avoid teachers of divisive doctrines. Jesus ate with sinners like the tax collectors of his day, who were some pretty mean people at times according to the scriptures.
And we all know that looks can be deceiving. People can appear nice and kind, but really don’t have our best interests at heart.
Jesus taught us:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Mat 10:16 WEB)
And Paul wrote:
Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; (Eph 5:15 WEB)
We need the spirit of God because navigating these challenging situations is a walk of the spirit. God set up these guidelines to protect us in our walk and to help us not be dissuaded of our reward. So be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. Walk wisely. Follow the spirit of God in you. But remember people are lovable, even if the love sometimes is tougher than we would like.
All people are to be loved. I, for one, am very thankful for the many kindnesses I have received from many people, not just believers, over the years.
We wrestle against the devil and his domain. We love people and are thankful for all their kindnesses.
Walk in love wisely.