We have met the enemy…

Who is “the enemy”?  Perhaps the cartoon character Pogo said it most succinctly: “We have met the enemy and he is US.”[1]  That is to say, wherever we are engaged in moral struggle, the top challenge is to come to grips with our own moral weakness and failures.  Those who oppose, or dislike, or even persecute us are never completely unlike us.  We are all subject to countless temptations and we all fall into all sorts of sin.  Not one of us is guiltless[2] so whenever we presume to have taken the moral high ground it can only be based on an authority beyond ourselves.

Our Lord’s frequently quoted warnings to “Judge not”[3] and “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone”[4] are often mistakenly posited in support of a “live and let live” perspective.  But, on those occasions in Jesus’ ministry He was teaching that we must never presume to judge as God judges.  Meanwhile, moral discernment, once again beginning with ourselves, is a duty for all believers.[5]

[1]Cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913-1973) paraphrasing naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry who famously said at the Battle of Lake Erie (September 10, 1813): “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

[2]Psalm 14:3, 53:3

[3]Luke 6:37

[4]John 8:7

[5]Jeremiah 42:6, 1 John 4:1

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