Karma has a warped sense of humor sometimes. Nothing shows it more than my own life. Picture this – a couple where one is a very conservative Libertarian and the other has the attitude of “live and let live” and doesn’t like politics. Such is my life. It is a very interesting one for sure. I am totally besotted with my husband and have a lot of respect for his devotion to the things he believes in.
I am blessed to be married to a man who always lets me know how much he cherishes me. I am surrounded by his love daily and am confident in our relationship. This man also has a love for debating politics. Thankfully, he doesn’t try to debate with me. He knows it is a losing battle because I refuse to argue or debate a topic. I simply state how I feel and let it go. That is one reason why it is good that he has friends and social networking that feed his love for debate. As for me, if there were a “live and let live” party to vote for, I would be right there. Unfortunately, there isn’t.
Here is the base for my attitudes on life. Each day, we choose how we are going to live. We choose our attitudes towards others as well. If you have someone in your life that you have negative feelings towards, you choose each morning when you awaken to continue having those feelings. You have full control over your emotions and your mindset. No one can make you hate them. You do that by making a decision to follow that path. If you are holding on to anger or a hurt from the past, that too is a choice that you make each day. No one has the power over you to cause you to feel one way or another. Only you have that power.
To say, “I hate that person because they are hateful to me” is something that can cause a lot of damage. Yes, someone may indeed be hateful to you in actions or words, but how you choose to respond to them is where you have control. Just because someone acts hateful towards you doesn’t mean automatically that you will be hateful back. If you choose to be hateful in return, you are doing it as revenge.
A child runs through a house, breaking a house rule, and accidentally breaks a vase. When the parent asks how the vase is broke, the child says, “I don’t know.” In that scenario, the child lies to cover up a mistake they made. Lying about it doesn’t make the situation any better. In fact, the lying makes things worse when the child is caught in that lie. How is our reacting to one wrong behavior by someone else any different? Has there ever been a time when returning hate with hate has ever brought about a good result?
We see it in the world every day. One ethnic group or a nation being hateful towards another. Each time one acts out either verbally or with actions in a negative way towards the other party, they try to “one up” on each other. It is a case of constantly escalating actions of hate. “You did this to me, so I am going to do this to you,” is a constant refrain between those involved.
Imagine what would happen if people started taking full responsibility of their attitudes and behavior. If they felt compassion for the pain they have caused the other party instead of rejoicing in it? Imagine the changes that could be brought about if we simply became more aware of how our choices affected those around us?
Seeking revenge or answering hate with hate is a selfish concept. You are thinking more about yourself and not those around you. In the scriptures, we are shown an example of acceptance through the life of Christ. If churches are teaching correctly that we should look upon the life of Christ as an example of how we should treat one another, how can we justify revenge seeking? Where in the scriptures did Christ ever seek to harm another through words or deeds? Even when he was tortured and crucified, he never cast blame or cursed those who were against him. He prayed for God to forgive them for what they had done. Even in his greatest suffering, Christ showed compassion. How can we call ourselves Christians (followers of Christ) if we allow hate in our lives?
It is easy to argue this with, “Well, in a perfect world people would be more compassionate.” Or the idea that, “Other nations don’t follow that and we have to fight back to avoid being taken over.” Those are excuses. It is easy to hide behind that type of thinking. So many have accepted that excuse that is has become a truth to them. It is not a truth. It is an excuse to allow yourself to return hate with hate. Some even return it with such flourish that they are proud of their actions. Consider for yourself, at the end of the day, has anything good come from it? In acting out in a negative fashion, have you shown the love of Christ to another?
We don’t have to agree with the actions of those who are hateful. But we also don’t need to be emulating their behavior. By answering hate with hate, we are saying that this is the acceptable way to deal with such actions. How can we teach compassion to our children if we are talking in negative manner about others? How can we expect our children to show compassion if we are not setting the example before them?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward with you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you only greet your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV translation)
“But I tell you who hear me, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you., and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36 (NIV)
“Love must be sincere. Hate that which is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil with evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary; if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9-21 (NIV)