For this reason, we must be prepared to remain alert and keep our wits throughout the long Mirkwood march.
What We Must Resolve
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). This love — John 15.12–13″>John 15:12–13 love, 1 Corinthians 13.4–8″>1 Corinthians 13:4–8 love, 1 John 3.16–18″>1 John 3:16–18 love — is the single greatest evidence that we belong to Christ. It surpasses spiritual giftedness, social justice action, and martyrs’ boldness in importance (1 Corinthians 13.1–3″>1 Corinthians 13:1–3).
This is precisely why Satan seeks above all to destroy such love between Christians. And it’s why we find it so difficult to love — our love is under assault. And in the middle of it all, it appears like we are wrestling one another when we’re really wrestling with cosmic powers of darkness that are attacking Christ’s kingdom (Ephesians 6:12).
So if Satan seeks to destroy our love for one another, and he routinely seeks to do that through corrupting our trust in one another, then we must redouble our resolve to vigilantly protect our love by guarding our trust. Here are seven resolutions:
1. Resolve to remember Mirkwood. Because we are journeying through a treacherous realm under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19), we must have a healthy suspicion of our perceptions. Our indwelling sin, limited perspectives, and past experiences make us vulnerable to deception, easily misinterpreting others’ motives or intentions.
2. Resolve to assume the best in others. Sometimes the worst happens. I have friends who have been horribly abused by professing “Christians.” But far more often we think worse of others than we should, inflating an offense through speculation. Rather, we should assume the best motives in others until proven otherwise.
3. Resolve to pursue reconciliation quickly. Jesus tells us to go quickly to someone who has been offended by us and be reconciled to them (Matthew 5.23–24″>Matthew 5:23–24). Most issues that erode trust between Christians would be resolved if both parties humbly talked them through as soon as possible following an offense. This habit will save us hours of fruitless stewing in speculative and sinful anger.
4. Resolve to not gossip. Offenses and resentment are contagious (Proverbs 26:20). Don’t pass it to others and make trust rebuilding harder.
5. Resolve to forgive offenses. When an offense has really occurred, the Bible is very clear: We are to bear with one another and forgive each other as the Lord has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13).
6. Resolve to kill the weed of resentment (Ephesians 4:31).
7. Resolve to remember the gospel. The cross of Jesus reminds us of how much grace has been shown to us, settles all accounts of justice, and frees us to serve our enemies (and much more offending friends) in love (Romans 12.19–20″>Romans 12:19–20). If the great King forgave our debt of 10,000 talents, we can forgive our fellow servant a debt of 100 denarii (Matthew 18.23–35″>Matthew 18:23–35).