April 10, 2013

Slaying the Serpent

In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong, will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; and He will slay the reptile that is in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1)

Archangel Michael

We are in a constant battle with a “twisted serpent” whose sole aim is to sow discord and enmity. And words are its main weapon.

We all deal with lots and lots of words every day. Speaking, reports, and waves of emails. And we all know that our words can be misinterpreted, feelings hurt, conclusions jumped to in an instant, especially in fast-paced email exchanges.

Proverbs has a lot to say about words. Today for example: “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3). When I was about to be ordained a priest in 1984 I asked a seminary classmate who had already been serving as a priest for several years what he had learned and could pass on. “I learned that I need to listen a lot more than I speak.”

But it’s also true that our words can bring healing, as we hear in another verse from today: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).

We have to repent daily for how we use and misuse words. For not offering a “good word” to others more often. We have to keep clarifying with each other to be sure we don’t misunderstand what the other is saying. We have to keep giving each other the benefit of the doubt, because everyone is engaged in a hard struggle at some level in their life. But above all, we have to remember that we are fighting the serpent, not each other.

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. (Ephesians 6:12).