We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defence. (2 Corinthians 6: 7)
Dr Dave Walker is a retired, eminently successful anaesthetist. As an adult, while working in theatres and ICU, he began to seek for God. After his dramatic encounter with Christ which changed his life and, he began to pray with his patients, often seeing miraculous results. Some of these are recorded in the book ‘God in the ICU’.
One fascinating story which he tells in his book actually does not involve a physical healing . He recounts a time when a new chief had been appointed over his department. Unfortunately for Dr Walker and the staff, the new chief was very curt with his new team. He was argumentative, made unkind remarks about others and created a tense atmosphere wherever he went.
Dr Walker, although a Christian, decided to fight back with worldly weapons of criticism and backbiting. In his own words, he embarked upon a ‘character assassination ’ of his colleague. He criticised his relationships with other people. He criticised the decisions he made. He even tried to criticise his surgical skills.
Then one day, as he was reading his Bible, Dr Walker read the following words:
Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse... If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. (Romans 6:14, 20)
Dr Walker had no desire whatever to ‘bless” the one who was persecuting him, and others, however, reluctantly, out of an act of his will rather than his heart he began to use weapons of righteousness to fight his enemy rather than weapons of unrighteousness.
One day, he saw that his colleague had had no time to go out to buy lunch in-between his cases. Dr Walker bought him lunch and handed it to him.
On ward rounds, Dr Walker asked his colleague what decisions he had made regarding the care of a patient. Dr Walker then recorded these as orders for the staff. He then invited him to lunch and learned that he was married and had a family. He also learned that the man had had a difficult upbringing yet, underneath all the brash exterior he had a soft, caring heart.
In a few weeks the men became firm friends. Their operating times became a pleasure and they developed a mutual trust which enabled them to speak into each other’s lives.
A year later, the chief became terminally ill and, with only months to live, he bade farewell to his colleagues at the hospital. Dr Walker and others gathered around him and prayed for him. One week later he gave his life to Jesus Christ and shortly afterwards died.
As I listened to this story, I became aware how tragically different the ending of this story could have been if Dr Walker had not chosen his weapons carefully. It can be easy to fight back with unkind words, sarcastic remarks, curt statements. It takes effort and, as Dr Walker discovered, a sheer act of will, to choose different weapons, weapons that will heal rather than harm. I wonder what stories in our lives could have had a different ending if we had only chosen our weapons more carefully.
Let this be a reminder to us today to choose our weapons carefully and to make sure they are ‘weapons of righteousness’.
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