He knew what he was doing. That sneaky spider.
I pulled back the curtains early one morning and looked out the window at the flower garden as I always do. I gasped as I leaned forward to get a better look. Overnight, a mid-sized spider had spun a web in my beloved butterfly bush. Any unsuspecting butterfly or moth drawn to the flowers, would become his breakfast. Clever, very clever.
Then I noticed his prize. He had caught himself a lightning bug, which looked to still be alive. I ran to the closet to get my shoes, rushed out of the garage with a broom, and hurried to the bush. A quick swipe of the broom freed the bush of the web, and a firm “splat” of my shoe freed the world of the spider.
Clever—that’s what Satan is. Our spiritual enemy likes to weave his own trap in the weekly workings of God’s family. In the church, we find joy and satisfaction in building relationships with other believers in Christ. We are drawn to the fellowship and often to the opportunity to serve others. But Satan doesn’t want us to get along. He can build a web of conflict that’s waiting for us to walk—or fly—into it. Unrest, division, grudges—these temptations lie in wait.
The apostle Paul urged the Philippian church to help two women reconcile. Had they been caught in a “clever” trap? Paul’s solution involved unifying their thinking and their focus.
“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel.” (Philippians 4:2-3 NKJV*)
Jesus is our common ground. To be of the same mind in the Lord means that we adhere to Jesus’ way of thinking and to His purposes. We think like Him, and we focus on what He sets as a priority for His family—loving God and each other (Mark 12:30-31), knowing God (John 17:3), sharing the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), and holding fast to sound words … in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13).
When we’ve walked into a trap of conflict, we can free ourselves by seeking the Lord’s wisdom and by remembering His purposes for us. We can lay aside issues that don’t fit into that purpose and focus on what does. What would Jesus think about the current situation, and how would He handle it? With God’s truth, love, and gentleness.
Paul goes on to talk about the heart attitude we can have as we live among those who are in God’s family and outside of it. Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand (Philippians 4:5). Gentleness helps us to refuse a trap of conflict. Or to react to conflict with Jesus’ strength and forbearance.
Just as Jesus graciously forgave those who mistreated Him, we can depend on His help to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (Colossians 3:12) and love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:13). We can seek peace instead of anxiety and unrest. We can each seek the Lord’s way to handle something, so we guard our unity in Christ.
Let’s keep our eyes open for our spiritual enemy’s traps of conflict and handle them with the Lord’s wisdom and love. A firm swipe of the broom may be needed. But hopefully directed at the trap and not a fellow lightning bug.
*All Scripture verses are taken from the NKJV.