In the book of Matthew (5:44) we are instructed not to hate, rather love our enemies. That is one of the most difficult directives the Bible gives us. Rage and hate are a poison that generally rots the soul of the hater and has almost no effect on the hated. But our flesh demands justice. Hate versus Forgiveness. They are two entities fighting to control us. Which will succeed? Which one do you feed the most?
It is extremely difficult to sit back and watch people or groups of people take advantage of others, or not react when we see the spirit of a bully attacking the defenseless. I find myself having to bite my tongue from time to time when I see what I perceive as an injustice to others, not just myself. It sickens me when cowards prey on the weaker and defenseless, only to make themselves feel superior.
What I learn about myself in these situations is that I find myself filled with rage and, in some instances, hate. I concoct all kinds of ways to retaliate and administer what I feel to be appropriate justice on the suspected offender. My body begins to tense up. My heart begins to race. All kinds of internal reactions begin taking place unbeknownst to me consciously. This is all happening to me and not the person I am focused on. They are going about as if nothing is wrong. Makes no sense when you look at it that way, huh?
This takes us to another piece of advice. God relayed a message to King Jehoshaphat through Zechariah, stating: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's." (2 Chronicles 20:15) It is the second part of that small portion of the message that really hits home; the battle is not ours, but God's! No one can respond to an offensive person better than God Himself.
As hard as it is, we must learn the valuable art of forgiveness. What is there to be earned by holding on to the poison of hatred? Nothing but stress and eventually ailments related to the stress and bitterness. Would you hit yourself in the face hoping to hurt someone else? I hope you answered "No" to that. So why would we ever allow ourselves to be negatively affected by allowing hate to rule our thoughts and actions?
Some of the best advice I have personally been given: "Anger is a waste of your energy." That was a profound statement filled with so much truth. "No one can make you angry. They can create a negative atmosphere around you, but it is up to you how you respond." I often wish I could have these words tattooed on my hand or placed in a position I can clearly observe it so I can be constantly reminded of their wisdom. It would save a tremendous amount of my energy and give me the power to respond in a more positive way. This would also keep my mind and body more healthy. Think of it as an anti-aging therapy. And who doesn't want that.
James Fansler is Lake Placid police chief. He can be reached at email@example.com .