I can honestly say that I only have one person who is probably my mortal enemy. He was a sociopathic minister I worked for during the span of about 3 years. He was not very intelligent but tried to portray an image of a loving and smart person. Something didn’t sit right about the man that many outsiders could instantly tell. He tended to be cold and aloof at times and his actions seemed to be calculated acts to make a person feel obligated to listen to him or return a favor. During fellowship with other ministers, if he could not control the conversation, he would become “super spiritual” with behavior such as praying in the middle of the conversation, just loud enough for people to hear. He would also make statements from books he read, attempting to connect statements together which we often thought were some sort of joke. I will never forget he asked “Brother, what is the universal symbol of life in every place humans are found?“ the reply from a person in the group was “Water. Humans cannot live without it.“ His face fell and he became upset “No, it’s bread!“ Try dealing with that for 3 to 4 years! He worked hard and went through the motions of a well studied Dale Carnegie student (how to make friends and influence people), but he always came across as being slightly insincere and “plastic” with most actions he performed. I suffered many, many…. Many injustices from him. So did two other ministers. He was jealous and intentionally alienated everyone in the church from him. Since he was assigned to the church by a general board at the denomination‘s headquarters, he could not be voted out. He constantly sought to belittle or destroy anyone in the church that was smarter than or posed an imagined threat to him. Needless to say we left one by one. Why do I bring this up? Simply because he gives us the best example of a person who held all of the proverbial “cards” but could not use them correctly.
The speaker and minister John Bevere once stated that spiritual “muscles” are like physical muscles. If a person uses them they become stronger and that person is able to sustain more stress or damage in the event of repeated use or abuse. (see page 145)
A bully is psychologically weak so endeavors to make up for it. A person who knows their weaknesses and strengths and has a healthy opinion of themselves is usually not intimidated easily or worried about imagined harm around them. People in the natural and spiritual can be self serving and hurt many simply because of un warranted feelings of insufficiency and insecurity. In other words weak spiritual muscles!
Where is the line of Godly restraint?
We are told in Scriptures that “love covers a multitude of sins” which this example points out. In the end after complaining to headquarters, and a few more incidents, we all left. Even at that time, we could have intellectually bested this man, and I’m sure I could have physically hurt him but this is where restraint and Christian compassion realizes he is a vessel created in the image of God . . . He was just really far from it! Godly restraint kept him from further physical and spiritual harm because to this day (approximately 8 years later) we have never retaliated. It is my estimation, that even in the spiritual realm, by the grace of God we can turn the other cheek and suffer spiritual and verbal injustices. We cannot be humiliated unless we allow someone to get inside our heads and react to it outwardly. Real humiliation comes only when we allow it.
This example also serves as a warning of the occasional rank hypocrisy we find in some churches. It also shows how some churches will allow this behavior to go unchecked! Suspicion, ill temper and an inferiority complex were his undoing. I saw many would-be church members ran off for trivial reasons! I wish I could apologize to them for the damage done. I have many well meaning friends who would say “He was following the will of God”, at times this may be true, but if a doctor has patients and every patient he treats ends up dying then is the problem the patient or the doctor practicing medicine? God is not the author of destruction or confusion. Christians may have battles but they are not destroyed (See II Corinthians 4:9 for a beautiful image of the true Christian soldier’s battles: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.”) This was the antithesis of the use of force. Godly restraint was letting our superiors know, and when it wasn't resolved leaving a spiritually harmful situation was the only way.