In the late 1850’s, Abraham Lincoln was running for president against Senator Stephen Douglas. The American public knew something had to be done about slavery as the country teetered on the edge of a civil war. Stephen Douglas was offering a compromise. With his plan, slavery could remain in place, but wouldn’t be permitted to expand as states joined the Union. Lincoln began saying that there could be no compromise, and painted himself on the side of freedom with Douglas on the side of slavery. Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” He was right.
In the first chapter of Haggai, the Lord spoke to and through Haggai. He said that the people were saying that the Lord’s Temple shouldn’t be rebuilt at that time. It had been taken apart and looted by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon. Then God asked if it was ok for the people to live in nice houses while the Lord’s house lay in ruins. God saw that they were divided on which house was more important: theirs or His. He told them that He had withheld blessings from them and to consider their conduct. Their loyalties were divided between their desires and God’s just like ours can be. We struggle between living and doing what we want to do versus what God wants us to do. Only one side can win.
It was Jesus, in Mark 3:25, who initially said, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (AMP). You and I must choose. There can be no compromise between living in the desires of our flesh and living according to what the Holy Spirit says. We can spend our lives building ourselves a house out of things we want or out the things God wants. What are you building? Are you living a divided life right now? Just like in Haggai, God is calling us to choose. We can’t go on doing what our flesh wants while starving the Holy Spirit within us. A divided life will fall apart. Let God stir up your spirit today to begin building your life the way God wants. You don’t have to try to fix things first. As my pastor say, “You get to start right where you are.” Live a life of no compromise.
In today’s world, everything is politicized which makes each of us feel like we have to be on one side or the other. When we choose a side in any issue, we feel we are right, which means anyone who doesn’t agree with the way we think is wrong. When we think someone is wrong about any issue we are passionate about, they become our enemy. When they become our enemy, we lose the love we’re supposed to have for them and can begin to care less if they make it to Heaven. This is a real struggle that many of us are going through in this day and age, and I believe it’s a strategy of the devil to keep us from winning souls. He has us more concerned with causes, politics and ways of thinking than with eternity. While these topics are important, we must make sure we’re not falling victim to our enemy’s deceit.
Ephesians 6:11-12 says, “Put on God’s complete set of armor provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser! Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage” (TPT). You and I are entrenched in a spiritual war right now whether we like it or not. The enemy’s strategy right now is to get us to think our fight is against other humans who don’t think like we do. If he can distract us with that, then he can keep us from the Great Commission. When we think our struggle is with people, we direct our attacks on them. We need to put on God’s Armor each day to help us think and see people, issues and battles the way God wants us to.
Jesus showed us a different way when He said, “However, I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them (Matthew 5:44).” When we put on God’s Armor, we will love our enemies rather than hate them or despise them. In fact, we are to pray for them and bless them. Remember it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). The next time you feel attacked or feel like someone is your enemy, remember to put on God’s Armor, ask Him to help you love them like He does and then turn your attack on our real enemy who knows that a house divided can’t stand (Mark 3:25). Our enemy has a strategy, but so does God. We need to make sure we are aligned with God’s and are not falling for our enemy’s.
In Matthew 22, some Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. In verses 37-39 Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (GNT). Jesus was very clear that we should love God first and then our neighbor.
On the night before the crucifixion, at the Last Supper, Jesus gathered His disciples around for one final teaching. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “And now i give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Jesus was adding that now we have to love other believers as well.
Sometimes the hardest people to love are within the walls of our churches. We find it easy to go out and love the homeless, the orphan, the destitute and the broken, but that’s not how Jesus said they would know we are Christians. Are those things necessary? Yes! Those are our neighbors. What’s difficult for so many of us is to love the person on the pew next to us or in the church across town. And that’s who Jesus commanded us to love on His last night. He knew we would struggle with this.
Jesus once said, “A house divided can’t stand.” Since that time, the enemy has tried to divide the Church. We’re divided into denominations and now we split churches because we grow to hate our brothers. If we’re going to be effective in loving our neighbors, we’ve got to love each other first. We need to put down our grudges and love each other instead. Until we get that right, how will the world know we are truly His disciples? If you’re holding a grudge, slandering or angry against another believer, you’ll find it’s difficult to obey the first two commandments effectively. Learn to love your brother (or sister) in Christ whether you think they deserve it or not.