By John Blase
“The best defense is a good offense.”
Who said that? Well, that quote’s been attributed to the likes of everyone from first U.S. President George Washington to famous Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, and also to voices you’ve probably heard of but don’t know too much about, like Machiavelli and Sun Tzu. In other words, a lot of people have said this or something similar. And although quite concise as it is, it’s possible to whittle this phrase down just a bit further to: be proactive. When it comes to strategy, be it military, gaming, or business, a passive stance leaves you vulnerable. So, take the initiative.
A variation on this theme, with regard to street fighting, is found is Norman Maclean’s classic A River Runs Through It. Now, I’m not advocating street fighting, or any fighting for that matter, but should you for some reason find yourself in such a scenario, it might pay to remember this: “If it looks like a fight is coming, get in the first punch.” Take the initiative.
Jeremiah calls God’s people to do the same, to respond sooner rather than later, and heed the Lord’s warnings: “So now, correct your ways and deeds, and obey the LORD your God so that he might relent concerning the disaster he had pronounced against you” (Jeremiah 26:13).
After Jeremiah speaks hard words to the people, he tells them, “As for me, here I am in your hands; do to me what you think is good and right” (v.14). At first glance that appears to be a rather passive defense. But if we go back a bit earlier, we’ll see that Jeremiah got in the first punch, so to speak, meaning he prefaced everything he was saying and left no doubt as to whom was really doing the talking that day: “This is what the LORD says” and “the LORD sent me” (vv.2,12). In fact, throughout the entire address, Jeremiah kept taking the initiative by reminding the people that “the LORD” had sent him. The prophet didn’t stop there; he kept on pushing, not letting up because the message God had sent to the people was just too important.
We’d be wise to adopt such a strategy. No, not for the purposes of street fighting, but definitely in our wrestling “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12).
As we live day in and day out in a world that often seems at odds with God, we must be proactive, taking the initiative and placing not only our words but also our actions under the umbrella of what “the LORD says” and has called us to do. And how to start doing that? A daily practice of reading God’s Word. Remember, it’s not if a fight is coming, but rather when it comes. Be ready with a good offense by aligning your life with God’s will and His Word. Always strive to get in the first punch. And keep punching.
Written by John Blase