Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, he raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” And the captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

“Choose your battles wisely” is an old saw that has been floating around for a long time. I enjoy researching the origins of expressions and words and this one has a cold trail. I’m not sure who said it.

I do have thoughts on it for Christians, however. To pick your battles implies that some things are worth trying to win and taking losses on while other conflicts are best avoided. It applies the battlefield strategist’s eye to things of ordinary life.

Here’s the problem for us: when God asks us to face hardship, he does all the fighting for us. It is not up to us to win or lose. When he wants to tear down walls, he might ask us to walk in circles for a week. When he wants to rout the enemy, he might ask us to take fewer people to the front. When he needs the day to last longer to ensure victory, he’ll hold the earth still.

We don’t have to pick our battles, because we’re not the ones doing the fighting in the first place! Trust in God to deliver victory, and don’t try to out-maneuver the army of Heaven!

Ethan Kirl

Originally published July 13, 2020