Wildfires have been raging in Australia since before Christmas. This is their fire season, so bushfires are somewhat expected this time of year. However, reports tell us that this season is worse than in years past.
Millions of acres have burned, and thousands of brave firefighters have worked. The land mass is so devastating, it may be difficult to create a reference. If the amount of land mass burned were near us, the torched ground would stretch from Alpharetta, GA, to Tallahassee, FL, and from Tuscaloosa, AL, to Anderson, SC.
While environmentalists blame global warming as the culprit, others point to arson as having contributed, as well. My purpose in drawing attention to this is not to spark an environmental debate, but rather to draw attention to the brave firefighters who know that you have to fight fire with fire.
While in firefighting methods, fighting fire with fire really works, I have to weigh my options when under relational attack. My choice to retaliate may help me “win,” but it can also leave a wake of destruction where I have torched the ground.
When we read Acts 24:1-21, we learn of the stark contrast between the religious leaders from Jerusalem and Paul. The Jews spoke with malice that was rooted in ignorance and injustice and was motivated by a desire to eliminate Paul as the threat against their way of life.
In contrast, Paul did not retaliate with malice, but responded with meekness. He chose to elevate the work of God and His resurrection. What an example displayed for us! Paul would have been justified to fight fire with fire, but instead he allowed the fruit of the Spirit to be on display.
We can learn from him and evaluate any level of ignorance or injustice that may cause us to treat others with malice. Instead, we must die to our selfish ambition and submit to the authority of Christ. He has called us to speak in love.
James 1:19-21 (ESV) says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
Barrett, C. K. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (p. 1097). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 395). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, pp. 482–483). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (James 1:19-21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 2, p. 235). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.