Contending. Fighting. Striving together against an opponent. I am the youngest of five brothers. As kids we fought with each other like normal brothers.
Now, as a father of four boys myself, I am often assuring my wife that it’s OK, they’re just boys. They aren’t a pack of criminals; this is normal boy stuff! (Then I pray.)
Though I fought with my brothers, I will never forget the day when I was a freshman in high school (first year of secondary school) and an older school bully threatened me. My brother Chris was nearby and saw it. Within seconds, that bully was fleeing into the halls of the school with Chris in pursuit.
We fought with each other, but when facing a common enemy, we were brothers. Threaten my brother, threaten me! A common enemy unifies diverse people. Even Americans, Brits, and Russians were allies when they saw a common enemy in Hitler.
When the church at Philippi was facing opposition, Paul wrote to tell them to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel, to stand firm in one spirit, to contend as one man, and not to be afraid of the opposition.
Never forget that we have an opponent: scheming, deceptive, mean. He wants to destroy you. Us. The children. Our partner churches.
To contend as one man, to fight effectively, we need to recognize our common Enemy and stand firm in love, in unity, with grace for one another, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to protect and defend each other as my brother once defended me.
The worst part about our Enemy is that he is not just “out there” or “those people.” He has a foothold in each of our hearts, in our not-yet-totally-dead sinful nature. That’s why our first, and maybe most important, fight is within ourselves.
Stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel. —Philippians 1:27b, NIV
Prayer: Father, help us recognize the threat we face. Bind us together in love and teach us to contend as one man. And please forgive us when the enemy is us.
Read all the One in Spirit devotionals.