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Satan has gone fishing

By AL EARLEY

Religion Columnist

Last week, I shared my experience with reading “The Bait of Satan,” by John Bevere, three times.  God used each time to show me I wasn’t as loving, forgiving and righteous as I thought. I discovered I was holding grudges and hatred against people from sins long forgotten by them.  That is what the bait of Satan is — offense.  We are a nation of offended people, many of us very proud of our self-righteous indignation, and we walk right into Satan’s traps, to destroy relationships with loved ones, friends, work associates, neighbors, people who share our interests and people in our church family.  Please note that when Jesus calls us to love enemies and pray for persecutors (Matthew 5:44), he is almost always talking about people close to us who have hurt us.

Jesus reserves some of his harshest judgment against those who refuse to forgive others.  He was always teaching that the ability to forgive affected God’s ability to forgive us of our sins.  For example, Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

When we eat the bait of offense, Satan hooks us just like a fish that is going to become dinner that night.  It is no wonder we are so easily caught.  Consider this list of the terrible, wicked things that happen to us when we refuse to forgive others.  We find ourselves in pain that we cannot escape, because our unwillingness to forgive traps us.  We want the other person to hurt as bad as we do, which never really happens, because we are not honest enough with ourselves and others to ever believe they have hurt enough.  We get prideful and arrogant about our superior moral character.  The other side of this coin is we reason that I am not being offended, they are just stupid.  We fall into the revenge trap even though God warns us that vengeance is his alone (Romans 12:19).  We lie to ourselves and God.  We blame others and claim victim status.  We become bitter, envious, unforgiving, angry and resentful.  We quarrel and sow seeds of discontent.  I know all of these are true because I can remember a time in my life that I did all of these things, and then made excuses that it was the person’s fault who offended me. 

I have three kids who are veterans.  I am very proud of my kid’s service to their country, and the countries where they served.  I was at a church meeting where many of the people didn’t share my point of view, about pride in the work of the U.S. Military, and they didn’t know I had a child in war at that time.  I walked out of the meeting enraged at the things said, declaring I would never go back again.

True to my word, years later I had not gone back.  While praying God spoke to my soul, and made it absolutely clear that he was not pleased.  I have rarely heard the voice of God louder and clearer in my soul, and I heard God say, “I am not impressed with your righteous indignation. You are of no use to me now. Apologize to the leaders for withdrawing, and get involved.”  The humility God wanted out of me was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Swallowing one’s pride, even when commanded by God, is not an easy thing to do.  Swallow I did, and today I have absolutely no regrets.  I am glad I was obedient then, because God has used that obedience many times over to make me a better person in so many wonderful ways, and I am a much harder fish to catch by Satan’s bait.     

Who is it that is hard for you to forgive?  Who is it that is hard to forgive that God is using to teach you to love enemies and pray for persecutors?  Do you need to order “The Bait of Satan” as soon as possible?  Why does Jesus warn us that if we won’t forgive, God will be limited in his ability to forgive us?  I pray you will do the hard work of learning to forgive, so you will never become Satan’s bait.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see lagrangepres.com.