Good poker players only play 15 to 20 percent of the hands they are dealt. Imagine if that was the maximum percentage for the number of battles we picked.
In the past, I had a tendency to be a serial battle picker and I probably lost 80 percent of those battles. My modus operandi was to let whatever the injustice was overtake me and I’d just lose it. Not a good look, especially if you want to have a thriving marriage.
Thankfully I’ve matured, a little, and after years of practicing (and failing) I’ve become a lot better at communicating. But there’s still the picking your battles thing.
You can be a great communicator; civil, respectful and reasonable and yet still find yourself picking way too many battles. What’s more, you might be really good at it, and therefore reinforcing a bad—and unwise—approach to doing relationship. Ever had a boss, or a friend, who’s always right and more often than not they are right, but something still seems wrong?
Jesus fought humanities’ greatest battle and did it the opposite way to how we would’ve done it if placed in his situation.
Imagine being Jesus. Jesus was always right. He was the embodiment of righteousness. But that didn’t mean He challenged His disciples all the time about how wrong they were.
Remember when they were bickering over who was going to be the greatest (Mark 9:33-36)? He didn’t challenge them on their spiritual pride or ambition. Instead, He used it as a teaching moment to illustrate the counter-culture of the Kingdom.
Whenever I have a problem in my life I try to look to Jesus as quickly as possible. As my hero, Bill Johnson says, “Christ is perfect theology.” Therefore, Jesus is the best place to start when addressing the issue of knowing when and what battles to pick. And Jesus’ approach to picking battles is very different from the worlds.
To illustrate my point, I’m going to look at the end of His story on Earth—His crucifixion—but before I do I want to offer one caveat or foundational principle to start from; Jesus only did what He saw the Father do (John 5:19). Fundamentally that is the answer to the question we’re dealing with but learning to do what the Father did is a process and God loves process.
We’ve all heard the crucifixion story in some way shape or form and the reason why I’ve picked it is that it is the most significant moment in history and faces the questions of injustice, grace and surrender head on.
Jesus, a sinless man, was killed unjustly. Yet, He willingly died for us. Jesus wasn’t in the wrong and neither was He in a battle with the devil that was 50-50. He made Himself the atonement for a problem that we created.
I’ll put it this way, Jesus fought humanities’ greatest battle and did it the opposite way to how we would’ve done it if placed in his situation.
Most of the battles we choose to fight are done from a place of injustice and our need to bring justice and vindication to a situation. Jesus faced absolute injustice and said very little in the midst of it. In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on repeated occasions, it mentions Jesus remaining silent to the lies, slander and physical aggression of those that opposed Him.
I still remember reading the crucifixion story as a teenager and my first reaction to it was to think, “He said nothing! Jesus said nothing! He just let them lie and slander Him and He said nothing!”
I still struggle to say nothing if my wife forgets to put gas in the car.
Now I’m not saying you just grin and bear it all the time. There is only so much worth in disciplining yourself to say nothing. Mind over matter is all well and good but that’s the best humanism can come up with and sadly it’s a ceiling that much of the church has bought into. The problem is you’re still trying to do it in your own strength.
The apostle Paul talks about Christ’s “…power (being) made perfect in weakness.” Paul, although given to moments of incredible poetic beauty in his letters, was a very practically minded man.
He’s not talking about some ethereal, unattainable, metaphorical power. He’s talking about the Holy Spirit. Not just a cool theological concept that we talk about and dissect over and over again. He’s talking about the same Holy Spirit that breathed life back into Jesus’ body in the tomb. The same Spirit that fell on the disciples in Acts 2, causing the world to be turned on its head. The Spirit is God’s supernatural invisible presence and it empowers us to do what we cannot.
When I choose to fight a battle that’s not mine to fight I’m still admitting weakness but just responding the wrong way. Instead of yielding myself to the Spirit I choose to do it in my own strength. This means that even if I’m in the right, I’m still wrong and I’m negating an experience that can only come through admitting my own weakness, because I’m not letting God vindicate me (Psalm 4:2, Psalm 43:1).
The Spirit is God’s supernatural invisible presence and it empowers us to do what we cannot.
Now, I’m not saying that we just turn the other cheek all the time, though I am saying that we should lean (heavily) on that side.
Jesus went to battle in love. In love with the world and desperate for it to see the liberty that He was bringing it. More often than not the battles Jesus did choose to fight were against the Pharisees; the gatekeepers of the Jewish people’s hearts.
If, like me, you find yourself picking way too many fights my challenge to you is this; yield your heart to God and admit that you can’t do it in your own strength. Then pray as my best friend Dave does by asking Him to cover your gaps with His strength.
I promise you, if you truly want it, you’ll know a God who fights your battles in a way that you never could.