Tag Archives: hate

Dodging Copperheads

When I was a boy, I loved to walk in the woods near our house. They held old trees and vines. There were ruins from the Civil War, and cypress trees, and right in the middle was a swamp teeming with nutrias.

One day, my friend an I were exploring through the woods, playing along the creek that fed the swamp. We each had machetes, because what boy doesn’t want to be dangerous? As we hopped along the cypress knees, my friend hollered for me to look down, and as I did, I saw something that gave me a fright! At my feet was a copperhead snake coiled up and reared back to strike!

In a split second I jumped, and it struck, both at the same time. As it struck (fortunately, just an inch or so in front of my leg), I swung my machete and took a chunk out of it’s back. I watched it slither away through the water and disappear under the root of a cypress tree growing in the creek.

It took me a couple minutes to regain my composure as my adrenaline flushed though my system. If I had been bitten, it would have meant certain hospitalization, and depending on the severity of the bite, some have even died from copperhead venom.

Have you ever had something dangerous sneak up on you like the snake did on me? Have you ever stepped into a dangerous situation accidentally?

The Bible says the devil is prowling around constantly, like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He is also a serpent in the garden looking for someone to trap into death.

Lately there have been many things happening in our world that cause us to react strongly within our minds. The school shootings in Florida, Kentucky, and even here in Aztec, NM are great examples. Government policy often creates emotional dissonance within us. Even the male commentator for figure skating at the olympics dressed like a girl has many expressing consternation.

It’s easy to have opinions. It’s easy to allow our emotions to control our reactions to situations. It’s easy for Satan to sneak right up and cause us to sin, creating moments of death in this world by our words and actions and attitudes.

We must be constantly on guard. We must monitor our responses to stimuli. We must react with love, not hate or division.

But how do we do that? James says the man who can control his tongue will be perfect in every way, because the tongue is a restless evil full of deadly poison (James 3:2, 6). How do you use your tongue when you are caught up in the emotional response to negative stimuli?

Maybe you need to distance yourself for a moment until you can calm down. Maybe you need to take a sabbatical from Facebook or other social media that is fostering so much division in our culture. Maybe you need to remember you do not have to respond at all.

It is better to remain silent than to murder someone with hateful speech (Matthew 5:21-22). For when we let our anger, our sinful impulses, control us, Satan saddles up and rides us all the way back to death (Ephesians 4:26-27).

If you’ve been guilty of letting your negative emotional response to some situation damage your relationship with others, you need to make amends (Matthew 5:23-24).

May we be people who speak life in this world, not letting the copperheads at our feet cause us to stray from the ways of Jesus.


It’s not Weakness; It’s Strength

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Philippians 2:5-8
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

We live in an arrogant age. The race of men have deemed themselves worthy of all that is around them. They continually speak of all that is their right or what they are entitled to. When they are treated harshly, then they are consoled by others who explain that they don’t deserve such treatment.

I cannot simply refer to society as “they”; it is “we” and me as well.

Our children get everything they desire and aren’t taught how to do without. They don’t see what they are being given as being a privilege. They see it as a necessity or right. They deserve it.

I think of times when people drive down the road – if someone cuts them off or drives too slowly they get angry. In fact, people get angry for a lot of things these days. We don’t seem to know how to take it easy anymore – our society is a high stress society.

We are arrogant people who say we are right and everyone else is wrong. We condemn more than the lifestyles that others live, we condemn the people that live them. We get angry and make sure we have the “right” to say our piece or to get them back for what they said or did. This is all arrogance.

Arrogance and selfishness go hand in hand. Every sin ever committed had its roots in selfishness. I can’t think of a single sin that you can’t boil down to selfishness.

Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not pointing fingers at a lot that I’m not involved in. I’m just as guilty, though I’m learning to be more aware each day.

Through our arrogance we bicker and quarrel. We see humility as weakness, or at best we say we desire humility but keep acting in our arrogance. We have a hard time considering others as our equals or even as our superiors, though this is exactly what Jesus did. He put our needs before his own as he went to the cross for us.

Humility, I find, is not weakness. In fact, it takes a strong person to be humble, but those who are truly humble don’t find strength in themselves for we are all frail humans. True strength that sustains humility is found in the confidence that God is sovereign and cares for each of us.

It is because of Jesus that I can take the insult without retaliation. It is through his strength that I feel no need to put myself first. It is only through his wisdom that I can put my wants aside for the sake of others’ needs.

I have a long way to go as I seek the humility of Christ in me, but I desperately want it. Unfortunately, in order for anyone to learn humility God will put them in situations where they must practice it among people who aren’t.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. In fact, there has been a recent study of the most successful businesses in America that showed that the vast majority of those business’s leaders are successful because they are humble people who seek quality in their work without need for praise of others.

Even more so, however, the scripture reminds us over and over that God brings down the arrogant but exalts and gives grace to the humble.

May we become more like Christ as we seek true humility in our lives. May we do more than just say words that sound like humility – may we truly be humble. Then, may we be the catalysts for change in our communities as people see the nature of Christ in us, for if we continue in our arrogance we will only see decline and contempt for the church.

I hope this impacts you like it does me. I want this badly, and I’m going to be pursuing this. I don’t expect it will happen overnight, but I want the nature of Christ to be event in me – Philippians 2 calls me to that.

 


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