In the spiritual war the principle of cooperation is very important. First, it applies to each one of us individually. Most Christians are used to fighting (win or lose) their own spiritual battles. We are so used to fighting the spiritual war alone that when we come into contact with a fellow Christian in the same war at the same time or place, we find it difficult to cooperate and communicate. Cooperation is a prelude to concentration, and concentration is one of the keys to victory.
It should be immediately apparent that the Christians have the advantage of a unified command. Furthermore, their commander is not too far removed from the situation to provide effective cooperation. Jesus Christ Himself experienced the temptations and difficulties encountered in this world, so He is close to our situation in the sense of personal experience.
More important, He presently occupies a position close to all Christians from which He directs their cooperative efforts—that is, He dwells in their hearts. From there He can guide us as individuals or as part of a group: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20).
Thus, if there is any breakdown in the principle of cooperation, it is not on the part of the spiritual Commander; rather, it must be traced to the individual combatants.
The greatest deterrent to cooperation is pride. Pride says I can handle my problems alone; I don’t need any help. Or perhaps it will allow me to accept help, but not from him! Sometimes pride keeps us from admitting our needs even to ourselves, let alone to anyone else. Other Christians could help us in our weakness, but we will not let them know what it is. A proud man wishes to win a struggle alone so he may take all the glory. When he loses no one else knows about it, or so he believes. James 5:16 says: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another.” This cooperation in the spiritual war is essential if we do not wish to be continually defeated at the point where pride hides the fault.
God’s attitude toward pride is explicit in the Scriptures. Proverbs 6:16–17 says, “These six things doth the Lord hate . . . a proud look.” In 1 John 2:15–16 it states, “Love not the world . . . For all that is in the world . . . the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
The Bible also describes the results of pride. Daniel 5:20 explains the downfall of Nebuchadnezzar in these words: “But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.” King Uzziah suffered leprosy until the day of his death, “because when he was strong, his heart was lifted up” (2 Chr. 26:16). Proverbs 16:18 states the principle in this way: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
In the military services, pride is deliberately generated in order to encourage obedience and high quality in performance of duties. Rivalry and competition in training bring the units to the peak of readiness. Yet platoons should cease to compete when they act as a company. They are held together by the company commander. Companies should cease to compete when acting as a battalion and so on up the line until the commander in chief unites the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
But a problem exists. Whereas the highest sense of loyalty should be to the highest commander, the greatest pride somehow frequently is generated in the smaller units, and the greatest loyalty is given to subordinate commanders: there may be fierce loyalty to the skipper and indifference, antagonism, or at best a lesser loyalty to the squadron commander. (This is no great difficulty as long as the skipper ensures no deviation from orders by the squadron commander.)
*Excerpted from Principles of War. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.
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