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Dangers of the Sword

In the late 80s, a friend from high school invited me to join him in a group he was a member of that fought each other with medieval armor and weapons they had made. By this time, we had already been studying martial arts and sparring for a few years, and the thought of making armor sounded like a lot of fun. As far as making weapons so we could safely fight each other, we had already been doing that. However, martial arts and medieval weapons and combat are two completely different things.

I was young, excited, and full of zeal, assuming that my years of martial arts training in various styles, including Kendo, made me more than qualified to handle myself in the arena with a seasoned medieval knight.

In truth, however, I was the new guy without experience in this setting. I had never worn medieval armor, never held an English-style sword, and never fought in this style of combat. My hubris set me up for failure, my assumptions blinded me to this fact, and my zeal pressed me on into combat with all the confidence in the world.

Full of everything except real knowledge and understanding of the situation, I boldly arrived and was ready to fight. When introduced to the basic training area, I confidently waved as I passed it by, walking instead to the biggest and most ornate knight at the event.

I introduced myself and explained my knowledge of the sword and how many fights I had won in Kendo. I then told him about my many hand-to-hand combat experiences and how I was sure they would give me the upper hand in this arena.

I was met with a straight-faced man who looked to his right, where a young man was preparing the armor for the knight. The young man approached me as the knight turned and walked away and said, "You aren't allowed to speak to a knight. You aren't even a page or a squire. They really don't like that."

Not having a clue as to what this young man was telling me, I walked back to the knight and proceeded to inform him I wanted to fight, to which he replied, "Just go do your training like everyone else."

However, I was not like "everyone else." I had years of training and was ready to show them how overqualified I was for their arena.

I will spare the readers from the now embarrassing exchange between the knight and myself but will tell you that the knight did everything he could to keep from fighting me that day. However, after much taunting and loud-mouthing on my behalf, he did us all a favor and finally said, "Fine. Someone get him some armor and a sword."

I quickly donned someone's well-crafted armor and helm and chose to fight Florentine (with a longsword in my strong hand and a shortsword in my weaker to use as defense). This choice was obviously made because I lacked experience with a shield. Seeing my poor choice, the Knight suggested I use the shield instead, knowing it was the better choice.

I switched to a shield and stood ready to show everyone who was present my skill and experience in swordplay. The knight stepped into the arena and sighed. What I thought at the time to be a look of confusion about my true skills was really a pity for what was about to happen to me.

He asked, "Are you ready?" I quickly replied, "Yes!" He asked again, "Are you sure you want to do this?" Thinking I was about to show him what he didn't see in me, I replied again, "Yes!"

A man yelled, "Begin!"

We approached each other boldly. The knight feigned a swing with his right hand, bringing his large war hammer down toward my lower left leg, to which I responded by dropping my shield to block it as he skillfully twisted his body and changed the direction of the hammer to hit my unprotected head full force in turn spinning my helm to the right. My bell rang, my eyes flashed, and I was now peering out the left ear-hole of the helm at the knight turning and walking away from the arena.

Many lessons were learned that day. Hand-to-hand combat skills and experience have nothing to do with arena combat. Kendo's swords and fighting style is nothing like medieval weapons and fighting style. Later, I learned hubris is dangerous, and pride comes just before the fall. (Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.")

Ten years later, I would discover the Bible and its truths. Salvation and the beginning of my Christian life would have their start, and many times during this walk, I would remember back to the day I learned this very important lesson.

In scripture, we learn that the Word is referred to as a "sword." Sometimes a double-edged sword. I believe this analogy is very important because as we "handle" this sword, we need to remember that a sword can be used for defense and to attack and, if incorrectly handled, can harm the one holding it.

Saul of Tarsus was a well-educated Pharisee who considered himself an "expert" in traditions. (Galatians 1:14 "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.") Saul (who later was called Paul) considered himself to be the best Jew and the best Pharisee of his generation. (Philippians 3:4-6 "though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless."; Galatians 1:13-14 "For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.")

Saul believed he was the "best of the best" and spent most of his time before his conversion to Christianity persecuting Christians who didn't believe what he did. He traveled to various synagogues urging the punishment of Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah.

Here was a man who loved God so much that it blinded him to the truth of Jesus. His mishandling of the Word of God did damage to others as well as himself. Sometimes our zeal can blind us. Our hubris, like a dropped shield, leaves us wide open and defenseless. We can be so sure about what we know that we, in turn, know nothing. Paul rejected the teaching and instruction of Jesus because he made the assumption that he already knew everything about God. (Proverbs 28:26 "Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.")

One of the things the Word of God calls us to do is surround ourselves with other believers. Alone we are only part of the Body of Christ. In unity, we are the Body of Christ. (Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.")

Many well-intending people have deceived themselves into thinking they "know it all", or "already have understanding and need no more." This is often referred to as "unteachable," and the sad truth is, there are many "Christians" out there who "stop learning" because they think they know it all.

They have deceived themselves (James 1:22) into thinking they have all the answers when truly they are spiritual infants still in the milk of God's Word.

Hebrews 5:12-13 "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant."

1 Corinthians 3:2 "I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able."

We should strive to continue our learning. (Colossians 3:16 "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.") Because the Word teaches once in Christ we will continue to learn and grow until we one day stand before Him!

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The moment we think we know it all and stop learning is the moment we set ourselves up for failure. When we go about swinging the two-edged sword, we will do more harm than good.


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