“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Saturday afternoon my husband and I strolled down Fayetteville Street in Raleigh from the State Capitol Building to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. We stopped to get fresh juice on a side street before returning to our car. After weeks of silent streets, it was a joy to see families enjoying the spring day. While restaurants were still closed or taking only sidewalk orders, life promised the return of normal. Little did we know that in a few hours this peaceful street would erupt in chaos as rioters smashed windows and destroyed property.
In sadness and horror, my family watched the local and national displays of evil spewed across our TV screen. A local news commentator apologized for the foul language being shouted in the background. A friend shared a text from her brother who serves with a neighboring police department.
He said, “Help, protect me,” calls are coming in from all over the city. The violence he experienced was from “blood related gangs.” These gang members are viciously attacking the police they outnumber. His partner compared it to being in Afghanistan.
The Battle Between Love and Hate
I listened to two live social media concerts of praise and worship while this was going on and marveled at the contrast between the news and these virtual gatherings that lifted up the name of Jesus. Men and women from every race joined together lifting their prayers and praises to God over Pentecost weekend.
I wondered what would happen if our news covered the worship rallies instead of the hate mobs. Then realized lack of media coverage can’t hinder the power of God released through worship. I can’t control what the news covers, but I can choose what I listen to.What would happen if our news covered the #worship rallies instead of the hate mobs? I can't control what the news covers, but I can choose what I listen to. #overcome Click To Tweet
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Many call this a racial problem. The Bible calls it a sin problem. Destruction and theft for any reason, whether against an individual or against a community, are manifestations of sin. “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10 NLT). Sin destroys individuals, families—and nations.
Injustices should move us. But, as Mama used to say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Hearing of the destruction and remembering the small business owners we’d chatted with that day, who have already suffered great loss through the quarantine, saddened and infuriated me. To respond in kind to wrong doers makes me like them.
So how do we overcome evil? The Bible shows us.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. …Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).
Evil is infectious. When we try to avenge wrong, it overcomes us.
The Power of Forgiveness
In contrast, my husband once talked with a woman whose family showed strength in the face of evil. Her father had suffered cruelty at the hands of racists. She also experienced racial prejudice. Larry asked her how she dealt with it. She said her father always said, “Don’t let them make you become like them.”
Her father forgave. This loving and gentle role model inspired her rise above the injustices she’d suffered. Father and daughter became better instead of bitter. They practiced what Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”#Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude. ~Martin Luther King, Jr. #healing Click To Tweet
How Can We Overcome Hate?
- Don’t paint all who sympathize with a cause with the same brush.
I support peaceful pro-life demonstrations. But I am horrified and ashamed when someone blows up a clinic in the name of pro-life. As my friend’s brother observed, he doubted much of this violence has anything to do with George Floyd.
- Keep a clean heart.
Hate poisons the one who harbors it. Guard yourself against bitterness. Turn that fire into fuel for good. I have to guard myself from too much news. When I put myself in a position to fret and fume, I open myself to sin (Ps. 37:8). “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8 NLT).
- Ask God to bless your enemies.
There is still only one solution for sinners—Jesus (Rom. 4:24). By repentance and faith, they can become new creations in Christ and experience the peace and love He provides.
My sister texted me a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. on his knees. In the background, his followers joined him in prayer. I close with his words,
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
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