In today’s society there is a giant bullring full of matadors fighting raging bulls and millions of spectators filling the seats. Some of the matadors are wearing blue and some are wearing red, the blue-clad ones crowd the left side of the arena and the red-clad ones, the right, some are fighting the bulls and some become bulls themselves. If you haven’t already figured it out, this is a metaphor and the bulls are that all-too-prevalent creature called a bully.
The Best Way to Put out a Fire
This bully-boom has been spreading like a wildfire for the past few years and it’s starting to seem like it’s out of control. So what are we supposed to do to stop the fire? How do we douse it? By stopping what is one of the most flammable causes of it: fighting fire with fire. When someone insults you, hits you, hurts you in some way, it’s natural to want to hit back, get revenge, hurt them the same way they hurt you, etc… But that’s like trying to put out a forest fire by throwing torches into the flames. It doesn’t put out the fire, it makes it worse.
Coals of Fire
Romans 12:17-21 says, “Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.’ Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This concept can be difficult to understand for some people. How can being nice to your enemies heap coals of fire on their heads? Well, think about this. Have you ever been in a situation like this? You had a disagreement with somebody and they just refused to get mad and fight back. In fact they were actually nice to you and made themselves look like the victim. So then, even if you were right, you looked like the bad guy and everyone else sided with them. Even if this has never happened to you, you can imagine how infuriating a situation like that would be. So in actuality, sometimes the best way to get even, is by not getting even. Not only that, but you’re also being the bigger person. Anyone can hit back when they’re hurt, it takes a bigger person to respond with kindness. Also, Proverbs 15:1 states, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Sometimes when you respond with kindness and a gentle answer, it can douse the fire of anger in the other person and a conflict can be avoided. This can be hard to do, though. So if you have trouble with this, pray that God will help you in this area. A good alteration to the above statement would be: “Anyone can hit back when they’re hurt, it takes a person with God to respond with kindness.” And did you notice the part of the scripture that said, “‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.’” Maybe we’ll never see bad people get what they deserve, but, in the end, they will, if they don’t repent of their sins. Then again, sometimes we do see people punished for their evil deeds. When bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people, some people call it karma. I call it God.
When You Turn Into a Bull
No, you’re not in Narnia. You’re just in life. “Me? A bully? Never!” you say? So I guess you never insult, pick on, or put down anyone who’s different from you, then. “Well…” you mutter reluctantly. That’s right. You’re not as high and mighty as you thought, are you? If you have a habit of doing this, you need to stop. When you turn into a bull yourself, you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Lots of people may be bullies and not even realize it. Maybe they’re even advocates against bullying. Maybe it’s a straight person bullying a homosexual or a homosexual bullying a straight person for not agreeing with their lifestyle. Maybe it’s a man bullying a woman because she’s female or maybe it’s a woman bullying a man because he’s a male. Maybe it’s a white person bullying a black person because they’re black or maybe it’s a black person bullying a white person because they’re white. Just because someone is different than you or believes differently than you, doesn’t give you the right to bully them.
Bullying vs. Expression
Freedom of speech, however, is not bullying, if it is done in a non-hostile way. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” It is not our right to bully others. However, it is our right to non-hostile freedom of speech, opinion, and expression. Even more than that it is our duty to try to help people who are lost in sin and confusion, such as people with malformed beliefs about sexuality, race, religion, etc…, to overcome their errors and sin and come to know the wonderful love and redemption that is freely offered in Jesus Christ.
Right now our society is being overrun by hate and violence and it’s time for us to stop being a bull or a spectator, make a stand to stop it, and take the bull by the horns…starting with ourselves.
Scripture taken from the WEB version of the Bible.