and do not give the devil an opportunity Ephesians 4:27
Opportunity – On the west end of Grand Cayman is a town called Hell. Maybe it’s only a tourist trap, but there is a post office there so you can mail a letter to someone from Hell. In physical space, this is about as close as you can get to the real thing. But the real thing is no joke. When Paul speaks about giving the devil an opportunity, he actually uses the Greek word topos. “Don’t give a place to the devil.” Apparently, Paul had some sort of geography in mind as well.
What does it mean to “give place” to the devil? It certainly isn’t about post cards and island tourists. The only “place” you and I can give to the devil is where we are. The verb here is important. It is didomi. It means “to give of one’s own accord with good will.” You don’t use didomi for something taken from you. You don’t use it to describe something you gave up under duress. This is a verb used for bestowing something, granting permission or delivering something for personal advantage. In other words, Paul is not saying that the Accuser is attacking you and you collapse under enemy fire. He is saying that you are not to bestow anything on the Accuser. He is your enemy no matter how seductively he presents himself. Be wary. Send him packing!
Why would anyone give opportunity to an enemy combatant? We might ask certain members of the judicial system this question. There is only one reason Paul can think of. We might give an enemy opportunity because we think we have something to gain in the bargain. Isn’t that the appeal of the Accuser? He doesn’t come to us with brash and outrageous proclamations of his own superiority. He approaches offering “gifts.” He suggests that we will be advantaged by allowing him some space in the territory we occupy. He asks only that we bestow on him the privilege of “improving” our lot in life. You’re hungry? Take a little something to eat. You want to be the best you can be? Add this to your arsenal. You want to show your faithfulness? Protect yourself today so you can fight tomorrow. You wish to prevent harm to your friend? Let me suggest an alternative path. It’s all good, isn’t it?
Until a human being has come under the seductive power of the Accuser, the usual tactic is offering something appealing. Advantage is the name of the game. Money, sex and power are simply the tools used to pry us away from God’s design and push us toward our own evaluations of personal enhancement. The “place” of this battlefield is right between your ears; the devil’s playground is in the mind-field.
Next time you hear the suggestion that giving just an inch will make everything better; remember that didomi also means “to give up and to deliver.” This is the offer of a gift with a trip-wire attached.
Topical Index: opportunity, place, topos, give, didomi, Ephesians 4:27