If we are being honest, it all started with American Airlines taking out just another two inches between rows so they could have an additional row of seats to sell. But on my recent trip for work, I was concerned that it might end up in a fist fight between the guy in the seat to my right who tried to stop the guy in front of him from leaning back before the flight even took off and the guy in front trying to lean back too early. There were words exchanged, but, thankfully, my neighbor quickly gave up and accepted the inconvenience of having this guy lean back into his space and doing it before the flight even took off. 

I understand the frustration with encroachment upon your personal space. I’ve taken many a flight with someone encroaching into my space – either with their body physically lapped over into my seat, or body odor wrapped around my head and invading my breathing space.  I blame American Airlines.

Encroachment. It is a danger for Christians too. 

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it rarely happens that Satan just busts open a door and barrels into a Christian’s mind, words or behavior. We Christians are trying to put off the old man, change our ways, guard our hearts and minds. So, I think it is unlikely Satan would be able to succeed in that approach. 

However, Satan is a master of encroachment. We plan to have a restful Sabbath, focused on the word of God and Christian fellowship but instead we wake up with some problem from work encroaching into our thoughts. 

I might be planning to get up early for prayer and Bible study before work, but then I lay awake worrying about something I thought I’d given to God long ago and then I sleep through my alarm and, ta-da!, Satan has encroached upon my private time with God via those sleep-stealing thoughts. 

Someone cuts you off on your drive to work and that encroaches a little upon your patience and then construction slows traffic to a crawl and that encroaches upon your patience a little too and then you get a call from your boss telling you that the meeting was moved up by 30 minutes and that encroaches upon your time to get to work and therefore your patience with the construction-related traffic and finally your assistant calls in sick and now you have to rework those slides yourself and BAM! You are out of patience and ticking time bomb, just waiting for that final straw when you either explode or collapse into a pool of tears – or whatever your “old man” response used to be before you thought you got rid of that part of your nature- yet here it is again!

Sure, Satan is a roaring lion, but he appeared to Eve as a snake and slowly, subtly with smooth words and seemingly logical arguments, encroached into her contentment, into her thoughts, into her faith in God until he got the behavior out of her that he wanted. (Gen. 3:1-6) I’d say, sly devil that he is, Satan actually convinced Eve that God was encroaching on her rights. 

Within the Old Testament history of the nation of Israel in the time of the kings there are many, many examples of encroachment. First, some king would come into power and decide to get rid of idolatry but they wouldn’t fully get rid of all the idols in the land and slowly, over time they were back to worshipping in pagan groves and doing child sacrifice.

Encroachment is one thing we have to be on guard against as Christians – the slow, seeping in of Satan’s world, his lies, his influence, into our lives. Little by little the old man, the old habits, the old thoughts, and the old responses can inch back into our behavior, when we thought those things were behind us.

This world is distracting place. There is so much here that can encroach on our minds and attention and time, and that is just how Satan wants it. 

Each of us must renew our commitment to obedience each day and never, never, never let Satan get a toe hold into our thoughts. If I allow him to encroach just a little bit – give into impatience, harbor a grudge for just a little while, fail to keep anger from moving forward into sin, justify thoughts or deeds “just this one time” when I know they are wrong, I open the door for Satan to encroach further into my life. 

I am not going to let Satan go all “American Airlines” on me. How about you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts too. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org