Romans 8:5-8 (NIV)
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
We live in a day and age when people blow themselves to smithereens in order to further various causes. You have to wonder why anyone would do such a thing. In reality, most of these people are desperate, without even the slightest bit of hope for a brighter future. For these people, the human promises of an appealing after life may be motivation enough to choose such a horrible death. But how can one justify killing innocent people and children, even those who carry the label of infidel?
When General Dietrich von Choltitz faced similar orders, his response was quite different. He had been appointed the governor of Paris, and he was expected to obey all orders of his führer, Adolph Hitler. The allies had devastated several German strongholds throughout Europe, and Hitler feared that Paris would be next. His orders to General von Choltitz were very specific: "Destroy the city. Do not surrender it intact to the Allies. The city must not fall into enemy hands, unless it is lying in complete debris."
Explosives had been placed all over Paris. In electric and water facilities, under centuries-old bridges spanning the Seine, in the 400-year-old Palais du Luxembourg with its numerous treasures, in the Chamber of Deputies, the French Foreign Office, the telephone exchanges, the railroad stations, the aircraft plant and in every major factory in the nearby area.
Moreover to ensure that Paris would burn, a tunnel under the city was filled to the brim with U-boat torpedoes. Once ignited, these would produce utter devastation.
Although uprisings did start in Paris, General von Choltitz did not follow his orders to fight until the last bullet. Instead, he was able to negotiate with the Résistance to keep violence minimal, thus preventing any damage to the city. When surrounded by allied troupes, he surrendered, and disobeyed yet another direct order from Hitler, he refused to blow up a city that was filled with such beauty and history. You can imagine how furious the führer must have been!
After this, General von Choltitz was shunned by German veteran troupes. It seems that he never regretted his decision to disobey a mad man, however. When he died at the age of 71, several French army officers paid their respect by attending the ceremony. A wreath was laid with the following words: "En souvenir reconnaissante d'une famille de Paris" ("In grateful memory from a Parisian family")
Instead of sowing death, General von Choltitz tried to sow life. Instead of strife, he tried, to the best of his ability, to promote peace in the city of Paris.
What a difference in perspective between those geared for revenge and destruction and those geared to protect lives and promote peace!
Jesus says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." (Matt 5:9 NIV)
The apostle Paul makes us aware that each one of us has a choice to make. We can take the easy road and follow our sinful nature. The result, however, is a mind "set on what nature desires" (addictions), hostility towards God, and a mind-frame geared for death.
We can also choose to decide to live according to God's Spirit, and have our "minds set on what the Spirit desires" ("love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This mindset promotes life and peace.
To which of these two groups do you belong? To which of these two groups would you like to belong?
Dear Lord, help us life in the mind set according to the Holy Spirit. Help us have the mindset that are full of the Holy Spirit’s desires. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.