The battle of Cannae was Rome’s greatest defeat in all of its history as an empire. Rome had been suffering military defeats at the hands of Hannibal and this time they were dedicated to squash their number one enemy for good. For the battle, Rome sent around 1/10th of its male population above the age of 17 into the battle. They mustered 80,000 men and 6,000 cavalry to face off against Hannibal’s army of 40,000 men and 10,000 horsemen. Rome was defeated by Hannibal despite having superior numbers because the Romans were deceived by themselves. The Romans were overconfident in their power, thus, they unknowingly fell into a trap laid by Hannibal. Like the Romans, Children of God are at war with a deceptive enemy. The devil is trying everything he can to ensnare our hearts with sin. As we battle the devil, are we deceiving ourselves and contributing to our own spiritual demise?
An individual soldier always has women and men at their side and a commander to support them in battle. For the child of God, Christ is the commander and His church is where our fellow soldiers reside. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 explains that members of the church should encourage one another and build each other up in their spiritual health. To surround ourselves only with people and situations that aren’t going to support us in our relationship with God is falling into the trap of the devil. The devil wants us to be entrapped with sin and feel like there is no way out (1 Corinthians 15:33). 1 Corinthians 10:13 describes that God is the one who can provide us with an escape from temptation.
The Romans fell to their enemy because they deceived themselves by relying on their own power and wisdom. In 1 Samuel 4, God’s chosen people suffered the same fate when their wisdom told them that the physical presence of the ark was their salvation. They brough the ark without God into battle and this lead to their demise at the hand of the Philistines. As children of God, we have the opportunity to rely on a spiritual commander whose wisdom is beyond physical comprehension. The devil will use our own understanding against us, as he did with Pilate in John 19:12-16. To escape sin we must rely on an understanding that is greater than our own. Will you choose spiritual defeat or victory?
Romans 12:15 (ESV) says God’s children should, “Rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep.” This verse goes beyond simply feeling happy and saddened with our brethren. Rejoicing entails spreading the elation that we are feeling to those around us. Feeling saddened gives off an air of sympathy, but this verse is talking about empathy. Empathy is feeling an emotion so strongly that it is like the situation causing the emotion is happening to you. Rejoicing and empathy require expression as well as internalization. How can brethren rely on each other if we are unable to support each other’s emotional health?