Recently I used an electric trimmer to cut back some hedges around our church building. Afterwards as I was rolling up the extension cord I discovered it had a couple of deep gashes exposing bare wire. Apparently, in my enthusiasm to cut away all those unwanted stems, I had carelessly allowed the cord to get in the way. I had put at risk the connection to the very power source that was enabling me to do the work. I had been guilty of the same misstep years before and had thought I had learned to be more careful to protect the extension cord while doing this task. Apparently not.
If we’re not careful the same thing can happen to us with our connection to the Lord, the source of our spiritual power. In our zeal for doing good things, especially in attempting to get rid of some of the bad or unwanted aspects of our world, we can become careless about our relationship with God. We can begin to pursue such things in a way that we ignore God’s plans and purposes, ending up damaging our own walk with Him and cutting ourselves off from the divine power and help we need.
Peter found himself in that situation a couple of times. When Jesus revealed to the disciples that He was going to suffer and die, Peter was apparently appalled by the idea of his Lord being treated that way. When he tried to correct Him, Jesus responded, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23). While Peter thought he was looking out for Jesus and His best interests, he allowed himself to become a tool in Satan’s hands instead.
Later when Jesus was being arrested, Peter took it upon himself to swing his hedge trimmer, or rather his sword, and cut off the ear of one of the offenders. However, Jesus told him to put the sword away while assuring Peter that this seemingly bad situation needed to happen and was part of God’s plan. Jesus even reached out and healed the one whom Peter had struck. In both cases Peter believed he was doing something good, yet in his zeal he was looking at the situation from his limited perspective rather than from God’s view. As Jesus said, he wasn’t being mindful of the things of God.
As we face evil, injustice and adversity in our world today, are we simply doing what we think is best or are we being careful to be mindful of the things of God? Too often we follow our ideas while ignoring what God says and end up with His needing to heal some wounds we left behind and to clean up the mess we made. Or like Peter, we speak or act based solely on how we think things ought to be, then we hear the Lord’s rebuke and realize we were letting Satan use us more than God. Don’t misunderstand me. There are times to do battle, but there are also times to impact our enemies through love and kindness. There are times to avoid adversity, but other occasions when God wants us to endure those hardships in order to transform us in some way or to use them for some other good purpose.
In our enthusiasm for good and for God, let’s not cut ourselves off from the very one we’re seeking to defend and serve. Through prayer, studying His Word, and being attentive to the guidance of His Spirit, let’s try to stay mindful of His will, plans, and purposes.