Bait

1 Peter 5:8-9a

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.”

 

I was all out of sorts this week. It was several different issues taking place at the same time catching me off guard. It threw me back into a previous mindset I had experienced at an earlier time in our first few years at Wesley Chapel. Just like back then, I was taken off guard by hurtful, accusing words and I found myself feeling offended, defensive, and needing to share my perspective in response. I had waves of anxiety and anxiety driven dreams. I became so unsettled and emotional that I finally reached out to a wise friend and asked for a listening ear and some advice. She was able shake me out of my emotional pity party and reminded me to stay focused on the work of the kingdom and the real issues at hand. She helped me shift my priorities back to God and the ministry and purpose He has for me.

It’s been a few days of introspection for me and I’m embarrassed to say that I had forgotten how Satan works. I had forgotten the tactics he uses to take my focus off of Jesus. Satan loves to use relationships and my need to be liked and respected to get me sidetracked from the work that I’ve been called to do. Satan knows exactly how to bait me to cast the doubt that leads me to conclusions that get me off the works that God has prepared for me. You let down your guard and he gets you. Thankfully, I have wise and godly friends to steer me back onto the right path.

 

In Luke 17:1, Jesus said to his disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come but woe to him through which they come”

 

Jesus warned us that stumbling blocks will come our way. He also warned that we have no excuse for being the stumbling block to others. The word used here in the text for stumbling blocks is the Greek word skandalon. It was originally the part of a trap in which bait was attached, the trap or snare itself. It also means offense or the thing that offends. When I become offended or hurt by something someone has said or done, that offense then becomes the bait Satan uses to get me. When I take this bait I become trapped in a way of thinking that gets me to focus on all the ways I have been offended, all the hurtful things they have said about me. If I let these thoughts progress, I’m full of self-pity and before you know it, I am bitter and I have taken the bait that Satan set. Just like that he has me focused on how I’ve been offended and before you know it my eyes are no longer on Jesus, but how I’ve been hurt and wronged… Just for the record, this is why many have left the church as well as the cause of many church splits… It all starts with an offense.

 

When I am offended, I start to believe someone owes me something, whether it’s an apology or an acknowledgement that I’ve been offended. When I start to believe that someone owes me anything, that’s the point where the trap snaps and I’ve been caught! I’ve taken the bait of Satan. Getting entangled in the trap has never produced any good for me. It cripples me and makes it hard to bear fruit. It’s hard to have any love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness when I’ve taken the bait Satan has left on the trap. It’s hard for faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to be present in my life when I’m hurt and offended by what someone has said or done. Bitter Fruit is all that takes root when my focus is taken off of Jesus.

 

Social media…gossip…all make it easier to say things about someone that we would never say face to face. Both are used as weapons of destruction when used to say hurtful things or put a negative spin on a situation. As an adult I’ve learned that bullying behavior isn’t always left behind on the school playground. Some carry this behavior into their adulthood. I cannot control what these people say or do. The only thing I can control is how I respond to them. What I am realizing more and more is that I need not respond at all. I don’t have to attend every debate or fight I’m invited to. To do so is taking the bait of Satan.

 

Scripture tells me to contend for the faith. It doesn’t tell me to contend for my right to have my thoughts or opinions validated. It doesn’t tell me to contend to be understood or prove a point. Jesus had a way of showing by example what a life yielded to the will of the Father looked like. As a follower of Jesus, I’m learning to yield my life to the will of the Father. In doing so, I’ve realized I have a lot of expectations of how I believe I should be treated that need to be yielded as well. Those expectations go unmet, lead me to take up an offense and let the seeds of anger and bitterness grow…seeds sown by Satan. Our world is so full of darkness right now. A world wrecked by evil and in need of the light of Jesus. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by what needs to be done for the kingdom. More recently, I’m realizing what doesn’t need to be done is as important too…especially when I yield my right to be offended.

 

When someone hurls stones at you, remember there’s a spiritual battle going on (Ephesians 6:12). Standing firm in faith is remembering this as well as knowing who you really are in Christ. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepares in advance for us to do.” I have a purpose that God has called me to. I can only fulfill that purpose when I keep my eyes on Jesus and abide in Him and His words, not the words that Satan has used to bait me.

 

Note: This concept of the “Bait of Satan” came to me through spiritual direction at a time when I was working on unforgiveness in my heart. It is outlined thoroughly in the book, “Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. While I do not agree with all of the author’s theology, this book was helpful in moving past the bitterness in my life.


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