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Pay not Attention to the Enemy, Only the Task at Hand (Article)

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

I’ve had a lot of practice in dealing with the anger and hatred that flow through our global culture. Even in my single digit years, because of the bullying I experienced, I was spending time at the library researching how the human mind works. I was angry about what other kids were doing with me and with themselves. I needed to understand it, so I buried my head in books about psychology and related subjects. And in my later, professional years it became a requirement for working with children and families. I ended up with over 1,200 hours of education and decades of experience. Much of it was directly related to family and cultural psychology. Basically, I had to know how and why people behave the way they do.

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Why do people behave they way they do?

The short description of what it all boils down to is this; people do what people are taught to do. We learn by example more than anything, especially as children. So when a child lives around poor behavior, the child most often adopts it and believes it's acceptable. Words don’t matter much as demonstration always takes center stage. It doesn't matter how much anyone tries to sway the child away from the poor behavior. As long as it's consistently demonstrated, the child sees the example and follows it.

"Daddy does it and it doesn’t seem to hurt him.”

The same goes for adults. When a nearby group of people sets up examples of poor behavior, seemingly without consequence, the bandwagon grows fast. It’s easy to believe adults should just know better, but that’s not reality. While, as adults we are all ultimately responsible for our own behavior, many of us don't realize it.

I’ve seen it countless times, every time. When a child or adult has poor behavior, as long as a teacher can figure out how to reach that person with good information, the person changes for the better. People most often want to do the right thing, but are most often mislead or uninformed away from doing it.

So how does this apply spiritually?

The devil has little actual power compared to what he’s made many of us think. Yes, he has systems and pyramid schemes in place. He uses them to murder, cheat, steal, corrupt and more, but they don't cary true power. Christ and his soldiers squelched that out of him. The system of evil and its influence hinges on one thing… deception; deception that stretches out into our culture in so many layers and so many ways it’s (almost) unbelievable.

He has endless ways to convince us to be divided from each other. And it works like the charm it is. The schoolyard bully’s “power” is just like the devil’s. It works because of one thing; the bully has convinced the victim that the victim is powerless, when in reality the victim is not. Without that illusion, evil’s influence falls short. It may cause damage, but it can't decide what we do about it.

It only makes sense that evil would work incredibly hard to convince us all that we’re powerless and separated.

Prejudice is rampant from one type of person to the next and action is constantly and consistently taken in its name. It's not just about nationality or skin color. Hate and arrogance work their way across many boundaries like personal style, mental disorder and even things as simple as how long a parent breastfeeds a child. We end up engaged in almost anything except what Jesus taught us, to be loving, understanding and patient with each other. Hate, fear and anger are regular replacements for the empathy and compassion we are supposed to be using and demonstrating.

Why is the deception so wrong?

We were never built to work against each other. And yet that’s how most of the world functions. We usually act less like communities and more like packs of wild animals. Instead of lifting each other up we often tear each other down.

Entire neighborhoods, businesses and other organizations are often built on opportunistic, hateful behavior. And many times, no matter what real information surrounds us, we go with the emotion that tells us to destroy fellowship.

So in the end what you get is a group of individuals running around judging, hating, being hypocrites and gaining arrogance and ego by the second. You end up with a web of people who hold hands one second, then stab each other in the back the next. None of it makes any useful sense. None of it benefits anyone. It’s a race that no one ever wins. The glue that holds it all together is deception, the kind the devil uses every day.

Where it really comes from

The anger appears to come from different, individual places as it’s meant to appear. This is highly beneficial for the evil it comes from. It helps keep the curtains pulled across the stage while production continues behind. It helps us place blame on each other, believing that people are just “good” or “bad”. It brings comfort when we ditch the challenges of understanding and helping each other.

The spread of this anger is like the constant rebranding of a product that’s made by the same company. I have a small camera, a webcam that's a great example of this. I bought it online from what might be the world’s largest internet sales website. The camera is available from many different sellers. It’s the exact same model every time. All sellers buy it from the same manufacturer, but stamp it with their own logo. So when it comes to the buyers, you have many different people who have the exact same camera, with different brand names on them, but they don't realize all of their cameras were made by the same company. Each vendor charges a different price and writes the sales pitch in a different way, but again, all the cameras themselves are exactly the same.

"that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" Revelations 12:9 KJV

The anger of the devil is resold the same way. It's always made by the same being for the same purpose. But it's rebranded by many different people who pass it on. The sales pitch is given differently to each person or group. One group may think they're destroying someone for one reason, while another group thinks it's for another reason. Like the camera I have, the anger may be used by different people in different ways, but in the end it's the same device.

There is only way to leave that kind of trap, rise above it.

How to rise above the anger of evil?

My family and I are called to different places quite often. We’ll spend four weeks here, six weeks there, on and on. And each place we go we treat it like an opportunity to spread the light of God and Christ. One thing I do is to walk whatever ground we’re staying on, whatever neighborhood we’re in. As I do, I pray for those who live there. At one point as I was doing this in a certain neighborhood, I received the divine message “Pay not attention to the enemy, only to the task at hand.”

So what did this message mean? I believe it meant that I need to separate who my enemy is from who my brothers and sisters are. I needed to “pay not attention” to the lies the real enemy throws at me, trying to make me hate my brothers and sisters over our differences. The “task at hand” was to pray to free those people from such lies. So when I saw a familiar, angry face in that certain neighborhood, I was able to remember that his anger was born from deception; that which makes us stray from the path of fellowship that Christ laid. I prayed that God free him from his blindness and show him love to counter his anger. And for the rest of the walk, I prayed that God bring love, light, wisdom and anything else that was needed to that neighborhood.

I take all of the photos I use on my website. See this one in my photography portfolio

"Pay not attention to the enemy, only to the task at hand" works everywhere

This concept, “Pay not attention to the enemy, only to the task at hand.”, I’ve begun to apply it in all kinds of situations. The more I use it the more I see a separation when I encounter angry people. I see the anger for what it is, unnatural and deceptive. I see the people for who they are, children of God and family of mine. I remember what I’ve learned though education and experience, that people do what people are taught to do. Now, instead of wanting a quickly satisfying feeling of vengeance, I want the long term reward of helping to bring more brothers and sisters home.

It also helps me in all sorts of other ways. When I’m working on self improvement, I pay less and less attention to the distractions like “I’m not worth it” (which comes from the enemy) and more attention to what has to change in my behavior.

It's a meditative statement

“Pay not attention to the enemy, only to the task at hand.” is something I often repeat when I'm confronted with evil or the anger it instills in people. I repeat it now whenever I have the task of walking any grounds and praying. It helps me focus on my work, not on the work of the world or the devil. So I've memorized it and use it constantly.

To conclude

The term "Christian" means "Little Christ". It means that to be a Christian is to follow the path that Christ laid for us, in us. It means following the laws that God has written on our hearts. And all of that means we are to love and understand not only ourselves, but all of those other humans in the world. It's not easy... okay wait... that's an understatement... it's incredibly hard to learn, but it's the only way to rise above the anger that never solves anything.

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33 KJV

What's more?

The following content strongly relates to the following:

Pray for the Enemy (article) - Praying for the enemy is completely anti-intuitive. It goes against not only basic instinct, but long-time, deeply engrained modes of dealing with social conflict. And yet it’s beneficial to everyone.

True Fellowship - it Starts Where it Ends (article) - Hate is hate and it crosses all borders, both physical and abstract.

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