I love C.S. Lewis. I am not sure if it is because he captured my heart and mind in his Chronicles of Narnia, or that when I read his theological essays or books I feel intelligent. (*wink*) But needless to say, his work has made an impact on my life.
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in living out Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, as seen from devils’ viewpoints. Screwtape holds an administrative post in the bureaucracy (“Lowerarchy”) of Hell, and acts as a mentor to Wormwood, the inexperienced tempter. In the body of the thirty-one letters which make up the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining faith and promoting sin in the Patient, interspersed with observations on human nature and Christian doctrine. Wormwood and Screwtape live in a peculiarly morally reversed world, where individual benefit and greed are seen as the greatest good, and neither demon is capable of comprehending God’s love for man or acknowledging true human virtue when he sees it.
“3. When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness ofyour patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let himassume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy—if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.
4. In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying thingswhich would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face. To keep this game up you and Glubose must see to it that each of these two fools has a sort of double standard. Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his mother’s utterances with thefullest and most oversensitive interpretation of the tone and the context andthe suspected intention. She must be encouraged to do the same to him. Hence from every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent. You know the kind of thing: “I simply ask her what time dinner will be and she flies into a temper.”
As I read through this “instruction” from Screwtape to Wormwood, I thought about my own actions with my spouse, with family members, or co-workers… Yikes, this is a trap I can easily fall into. Those irritating glances, or using “innocent” words but with a condescending tone… Ouch, again!!
After suddenly becoming aware of my own faults I realized that I was not only hurting those around me, but I was falling right into the hands of my enemy… Satan. He was playing me like a fiddle.
Satan wants us to believe that Spiritual Warfare only exists in taro cards, crystal balls and seances, but the reality is that he (Satan) can be at work in patronizing remarks, judgmental thoughts, jabbing jargon and snobbish glances. This is exactly how he creeps into or relationships with friends, family and especially our spouse. All it takes is experiencing one or two of those “blow to the face” comments to drive a thick wedge between you and someone you love.
Just as I can be the one dishing out those arrogant arguments, I can just as easily be the party guilty of “oversensitive interpretation”…. So, count me as guilty on both counts! (boo)
What an easy whirlpool to get caught up in… each reaction will spawn the other spinning faster and faster until your relationship is damaged or broken. (which is Satan’s anticipated result)
SO HOW DO WE GUARD AGAINST THE ENEMY????
Don’t be ignorant….Be ALERT and of SOBER MIND: Before reading this letter, I knew that my behavior was not “the best” but I was ignorant (in some ways) that it was actually “falling victim to temptation” or falling into the category of “spiritual warfare”.
1 Peter 5:8-9 says: “8 Be alert and of sober mind.B)’> like a roaring lionD)’> standing firm in the faith,