The Better Part of Valor – Praying in hostile environments
Social Media has exploded with negative seed-planting and hostile reactions. But Hostility does not have to mean enemies.
Seems to me that social media sharing contorted from sharing what was happening to a vulnerable who we are, then what we don’t believe (what someone else does believe) defining who we are, and that’s when things got dicey. Instead of each individual’s beliefs defining themselves, comments became a proclamation and challenge of and to all of the individual’s media friends and contacts. Discussion was replaced with hostile rejections and reactions zinging like a bullet hitting metal and rebounding.
I admit I’ve reacted sometimes when I should have responded, and now ignore politically-based statements like ‘If you voted a different way than me don’t come to my concert’ or ‘all who did not vote for my candidate are worse than fools but you can still buy my product’, but understanding that most emotional outbursts are self-defensive to hurt I can select responses with three choices:
- I choose to hide the post (Lest someone assume I agree with the inflammatory remarks) or I read the post because I honestly want to understand their thinking.
- If I read the post, I also choose if I will react or respond to it.
Interestingly to react is defined as: respond with hostility, opposition, or a contrary (without thought of hurt I could sling back. To respond, on the other hand, is defined simply as: say something in reply. It does not imply the hurtful action, as does an instant reaction, and suggests thought, or evaluation, in forming a reply.
That is what we should strive for according to Proverbs 15:1: A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. (Message)
3) I can choose to take the comments personally or to identify the force and power behind them by evaluating if there are any evidences of the enemy’s tactics (building new “truth” out of a lie, making temporary feelings seem permanent, instilling or encouraging hatred or hostility, accusing those who believe differently to have the very qualities and attitudes the accuser displays.
The enemy’s basic characteristics that Matthew 5:44 (pray for your enemies) described are hatred displayed through hostility.
Hate – Strong’s Concordance – e¶cqw echtho (to hate); hateful (passively, odious, or actively, hostile); usually as a noun, an adversary (especially Satan): — enemy, foe.
Dictionary hate — intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
Hostile — showing unfriendly feelings a hostile act or openly opposed having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature creating a hostile environment
Doesn’t it make you angry when you are unjustly reviled? And now we read we are expected to PRAY for such people?
Honest prayer for my enemies, or those used by the enemy, recognizes that God’s act of love was performed in behalf of all, but is only effective for those who accept it.
.As natural as it is to respond to anger with anger, Ephesians 4:26 (Be angry and sin not) commands we not allow those natural emotions to cause sin (Eph. 4:26). How? First of all be angry at the real enemy – not the one deceived by the enemy. A great way to diffuse or redirect anger is through prayer. We can pray for the hostile, while not demeaning them because they are so angry and pray for ourselves that however we respond would glorify God and diffuse the anger. It is said He who angers you is the one who controls you.
Carol Mayhall (Navigators) taught to ask yourself what difference will or could my response make in 5 years… defining the worst possible result helps me temper my reply and activate quick heart prayers for everyone concerned. And sometimes it is best to just give it to God and choose to ignore the little flame with no answer, rather than fanning it. What seems like a cop-out to some, a non-reply and trust in God to deal with the wound is the better part of valor.
In silence is strength
So let’s listen for their hurt, aim our anger away from in-kind reactions and pray for all of our social contacts whether friendly or hostile. As we obey this part of the command, the next part (love your enemies) may surprisingly give way in our hearts.
How do you pray for your enemies?