Lesson 257: "Don't Let the Devil Get Your Goat"
When I was a little kid I had two older brothers that could have possibly qualified for a reform school had there been such an institution in our area. They were frisky, hyper tormentors who were continuously teasing and pulling pranks on poor innocent victims. These victims were anyone that happened to be in their path as they showed no favoritism or mercy to young, old, animals or minerals. I was not usually the butt end of their antics since from a very young age I learned it was best to stay out of their way. However, on occasion they would target me and I would take off running and screaming to daddy. He would pat me on the back and say; “well now! Don’t let them get your goat” or in Texas slang; “don’t let ‘um get cha goat”! This was quite confusing since I didn’t have any goats! What I did have were two dolls which my dear brothers buried in the back yard and a stick horse which they burned in the trash fire. Later in life I learned to give as good as I got and could “gather their entire herd of goats” with my sharp, fiery tongue. Now that we are all in the “winter stages of life” I love them dearly and they have mellowed somewhat; either that or I have learned to bridle my tongue and pray for them rather than retaliate.
Through all of this I learned a great lesson and also learned what “get your goat” really meant. It means simply to not give the devil a foothold or a way to defeat you and do not let the sun go down while you are angry (Eph. 4:26-27). I have also learned that he who does what is sinful is of the devil………the Son of God appeared to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8) and when our tempers flare and we lash out we are not helping God to destroy the devil’s work but only falling in with the devil and his schemes, allowing him to outwit us (2 Cor. 2:11). Peter tells us to be self-controlled and alert or that old prowling lion will devour us, and we can hardly be self-controlled when we are screaming in anger now can we (1 Pet. 5:8-9). Peter also tells us to love one another deeply from the heart; another thing that is hard to do when you hold resentment toward them (1 Pet. 1:22).
I do not even like to talk about the restless evil and deadly poison that fills the tongue. James writes those words and assures us that praise and curses (at the same time) simply cannot come from a tongue that claims to have the likeness of God (James 3:8-12). He joins Peter in the warning to resist the devil, wash our hands, purify our hearts and humble ourselves before the Lord (James 4:7-10). “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20). Hard lesson to learn and difficult advice to take but trust me (and most of all God) this will work. You have to ask God for wisdom laced with patience and James gives a warning about this also. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all, without finding fault and it will be given to him. BUT when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:5-7). Diakrinomenos, the word for doubt suggest “vacillating” which simply put means that you cannot expect God to “take care of things” while you continue to hold a grudge against someone. That is vengeance not forgiveness! “It is mine to avenge; ‘says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19).
We are to encourage one another and build each other up (Thess. 5:11), devote ourselves to prayer (Col. 4:2), do not be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6), and live up to what we have already attained which is salvation and the God given ability to defeat and resist the devil (Phil. 3:16). Serve wholeheartedly and stand firm with the full armor of God on (Eph. 6:7-18), be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1), aim for perfection (2 Cor. 13:11) and when we boast we must boast in the Lord (2 Cor. 10:17). We have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4-6) with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left (2 Cor. 6:7) and God will help all of us to keep His Commands which is what counts (1 Cor. 7:19b). Keep away from those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way. Don’t allow these to open you up for the “devil to get your goat” with smooth talk and flattery (Rom. 16:17-18). “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20) and “it is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:24)!