January 30, 2018
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur ... They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Revelation 20:10a, 10c (NIV)
Years ago, a friend and mentor tapped me on the shoulder to share what she said was "a word from God" for me.
"You are beautiful, sharp and intelligent," she started. "God is so pleased that you pursue holiness in your walk with Him. He wants to use you in mighty ways, but there's one thing about you that must change. Kenisha," she said. "You've got to lose weight. It's the one thing nonbelievers will see from your life and deny the power of God."
What can take a 23-year-old, Jesus-loving, mission-minded, youth leader and Sunday school teacher and make her into a spiritual mute for the next 17 years? The prospect of others judging the God she loves based on her appearance and apparent shortcomings.
Now I can see the evil one's deception all over that conversation and my response. My friend's words fell on the most tender place in my heart - bruised by countless pummels of rejection over the years because of my size.
What the 20-something me didn't detect was how that conversation was a tool in the hands of an enemy I didn't really know much about. I grew up knowing God had a good plan for my life. (Jeremiah 29:11) But it was inconceivable to me at the time that Satan also had a plan for my life that only involved destruction. (John 10:10)
I've since learned Satan is a ruthless, relentless attacker. He will use whatever - and whomever - he can to twist the truth and confuse us into believing his lies. Scripture describes him as cunning (Genesis 3:1), evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3) and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
I'm sure I discounted Satan's malicious power and influence because I already knew how his story ends: "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur ... They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Revelation 20:10a, 10c). He knows it too, but that doesn't stop him from his devious pursuits.
What I try to remember is that Satan's building a kingdom of followers just like God is. If Satan can't get us to reject God and follow him into hell, perhaps he can get us to lead a silent, unfruitful life. A life so riddled with guilt and shame we'll willingly give up sharing God's love with those who need to hear. This is why Scripture warns us to stay alert. (1 Peter 5:8)
Today, I truly believe my friend had the best of intentions. Maybe she really believed I needed to be a certain size in order to represent Christ effectively. But that's not what God's Word says. In God's kindness, there is no biblical evidence to suggest there will be a scale at heaven's gate. Thank You, Lord!
However, Scripture does emphasize the importance of taking care of our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20,1 Corinthians 10:31) But even with daily exercise and healthy eating, a host of factors can make it nearly impossible to reach optimal health and weight: illness, allergies, nutritional deficiencies. All these years later, it's still the greatest struggle of my life.
But these years of silence have taught me a huge lesson I pray I'll always remember: Never elevate human words above the Word of God! (Well-meaning or otherwise.)
I imagine you struggle with something too. Something that's confined you to a sentence of silence for fear you'll do our heavenly Father a disservice. I have a Word from God for you, friend:
God cherishes you. (1 John 3:1a)
He sees your struggle, and He knows your heart. (Psalm 56:8)
Satan knows this is an area of weakness, and he'll tempt you to run and hide. (James 4:7)
Don't succumb to the lie that someone else is better suited to share or serve. (1 Samuel 16:7)
God is with you, and He will help you. (Isaiah 41:10)
Use all your days and all your strength to tell of God's goodness and His marvelous ways. (Psalm 96:3)
God's growing His kingdom, and He wants to use you to get His Word out to all who hear it. (Romans 10:14)
Dear God, I've wasted too much time not realizing Satan has a mission to silence me because I belong to You. Help me recognize his attacks and remain steadfast in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 6:11, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." (ESV)
1 Timothy 4:8, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (NLT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
One of the most effective ways to foil the enemy's plan is to know God's Word and hide it in your heart for constant reference.
If there's an area of your life where you suspect Satan at work, take time to pray and ask God to show you the Truth from His Word.
© 2018 by Kenisha Bethea. All rights reserved.