“Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” (excerpt from psalm 37, KJV)
A man was working outside in his garden one hot summer afternoon when a snake appeared out of nowhere and bit him. While he was bleeding, the man chased down the snake and beat it to death with his shovel. After chasing and conquering the snake, the man tried desperately to catch his breath and calm down, but he felt extremely light-headed. When he finally stumbled into the door of his home, he collapsed. His partner rushed him to the emergency room.
After about an hour, a forlorn doctor approached the partner and informed him that despite the best efforts of the medical team, the man had passed. With tears in his eyes the partner asked: “What happened?” “He suffered a snake bite,” the doctor responded. “But the snake bite didn’t kill him.” “The poison that remained for too long in his body is what killed him.”
While attending Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, as a seminarian, I will never forget hearing Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. say over and over again, “Don’t let anybody make you stoop so low as to hate!” I have always considered this an amazing assertion from a man whose beloved son and wife were both murdered on two separate occasions. But Dr. King knew what the Psalmist knew. Like venom to the body, hatred and vengeance are lethal injections to the human spirit.
It takes a lot to forgive, and to place those who have wronged us into the Lord’s hands. But hatred and vengeance require even more of us – too much more. Hatred and vengeance rob us of our peace of mind and our peace with God.
Dear Lord, you know the bites and attacks we’ve suffered. Now please help us not to allow the venom of our adversaries to destroy us. Amen
–Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel, from StillSpeaking