“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:7). Most, if not all, of us, knew of a school bully. We either were the victim, knew someone who was, or shamefully, were one ourselves. A bully is the ultimate coward. They use their strength to hide their insecurities by attacking individuals who cannot fight back. I say “individuals” and not “kids” because there are many people who are bullied as adults as well. It may be a boss or coworker who uses their position of authority to intimidate and torment anyone they don’t like. It may be a spouse who bullies their partner, and it may even be a “friend.” The latter group is passive-aggressive bullies who intimidate with threats of ending the friendship in order to control the “friend.” Whatever the circumstance, we all abhor or should abhor anyone who uses physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological means to torment an innocent individual.
There are far too many people who live in fear because of people like that. The threat of being attacked every day, of having their livelihood, marriage, or friendship threatened by these pernicious bullies, is often the cause of depression. And in the worst cases, torment over long periods can lead to the ultimate perceived forms of escape. Either the victim continues on in terror, acquiescing to every demand of their attacker while enduring intolerable anguish, will commit violent acts to try to stop it, or tragically will end their own lives in a desperate attempt to escape the tormentor. None of the aforementioned is a solution, but the psychological damage can lead the individual to fail to see other ways of dealing with it.
Do you know who the biggest bully of all is? The devil. He will torment his victims, abuse them in any manner possible, and attack them every second of every day to destabilize their relationship with God. And he is always on the hunt, as witnessed by 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” His weapons are numerous, and his intentions vile, but ultimately he is as much a coward as those he persuades to do his bullying for him. He knows he has already lost the battle with Christ, so he attacks His followers, whom he thinks are defenseless, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In today’s scripture, the spirit spoken of is not the Holy Spirit but a person’s attitude or disposition. The Lord does not want us to fear anyone. He does not want us to cower in fear every time a bully appears around the corner. He wants us to have a spirit of power and self-control. We have courage because we have God on our side. Now, I am not advocating “fighting” a bully because violence is never the answer and is not Christian, but there are many ways one could use to deal with the threat. When it comes to people, we could approach a parent, a trusted person in authority, or a confidant for help, but the approach is laid out for us in the Bible when it comes to the devil.
Just like in life, resisting the ultimate bully will result in their defeat. James 4:7 directs Satan’s victims. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Doing so will set you free from your tormentor. God wants you to live a life free of fear and to have your own power. He also wants you to have three things the bully is devoid of – love for yourself, love for others, and self-control. Do not allow the devil or anyone else to threaten you. God has your back, so take control.