Today's devotion from Deuteronomy 19 & 20.
One key theme that keeps repeating the idea that those who follow God should avoid excess. I think it's important to realize that commands are to protect relationships, including national, familial, spiritual, and personal.That aversion of excess also flows into the warfare of the nation.
This moderation and control even flows into how the wars are waged. The conclusion of chapter 20 deals with the protection of fruit trees. At first, the shift from not sparing certain groups (in order to preserve the welfare of the nation) to the protection of fruit trees seems startling. It almost seems out of place, that is, until we consider the flow of these passages.
They aren't permissions for warfare as much as they're limitations on chaos and violence. We've seen the discussion on structure and order as far as appointing leaders. We've seen the way the people are to respond to those who "make war against [them]." We've seen that the people are not to employ a scorched earth mentality, but are to preserve as much as possible. It might sound crazy to say this, but even in warfare the Israelites are representatives of God and stewards of His creation. There is a godly way to do war, and it was to be followed.
In thinking through this, I wonder how many times I've failed at living out godly principles in conflict? How many times have I refused to seek peace simply because I wanted to win? How many times have I flown off into chaos instead of seeking order? How many times have I burned bridges that could have been blessings later on? There are some hills to die on, but they are not my pet projects. They are those areas in which my relationship and walk with God would be wrecked if I did not act decisively.
Yet, even as I type that I know that the sin in my life that needs to be mortified is often not the hill on which I expend my efforts. Instead, I attack windmills and straw men as if my life depended on it while the real enemy has infiltrated my camp disguised as a friend.