A Nation of Vipers

grass-snake-379025_640“Watch your mouth, young lady.”
 
Yeah, that was my mother.
I can still hear her saying that, probably because she said it to me often as I was growing up.
I know you don’t find that hard to believe.
God says something along those lines to me still,
only with a slight, but important variation,
“Watch your heart, woman.”
I don’t shock easily anymore but last night I was genuinely shocked at the rage-filled rhetoric  filling the airwaves and Internet.
I even caught more than my share of it when I commented on-line.
A local talk radio personality posted a graphic photo of the dead bomber. People were commenting with colorful hatred and vengeance, glorying over his suffering, his religion, and the public display of his corpse.
I’m not sad the man is dead. I think of that little boy ripped forever from his family and I want  justice as much as the next guy. But I don’t want to become like the terrorists
so
I dared to suggest that I thought we, as a nation, did not sink to the level of displaying the bodies of our enemies like trophies. I dared to suggest that we, as a people, have greater respect for human life, even when that life has chosen evil. I dared to suggest that desiring justice is not the same as reveling in bloodlust and mocking corpses.
The vipers turned on me.
Called me names. Suggested I didn’t care about the dead. Expressed disgust at my weakness.
My fellow Americans.
The photo was quickly removed and today it’s back but you must choose to click on it to see it. A compromise.
But I caught a glimpse, in that moment of verbal attack, of how quickly the rage and hatred against the enemy can turn in my direction.
It was a kindness from God. A mini-workshop on what is to come.
Words.
We think they’re just words.
Tough talk
but we’d never act on those words,
right?
Thursday, I attended a training on working with families struggling with domestic violence.
The trainer warned us,
“Watch the offender’s words, his threats. Even if he (or she) hasn’t escalated yet to routine physical violence. If he threatens violence, it will eventually come
Our words are our way of rehearsing our actions. Words pave the way for the decisions that follow.
Words are NEVER “just words.”
Don’t believe it now. Don’t believe it ever.
Words are the overflow of what is in our hearts and they are the runway lights to future action.
Jesus said it like this:
 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  
 
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 
 
For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37
Loved ones, guard your hearts.
Consider your words carefully, prayerfully, and respect the power they have.
And as you listen to the words of our nation in the days ahead,
let them drive you to prayer for our people
and let them motivate you to be beacons of light shining in a growing darkness.
But don’t be afraid.
Paul was bitten by a viper
and lived.
The blood of Christ contains the antidote and, if He lives in our hearts, it flows through our veins.

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19 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    Powerful!

  2. I agree with you, Lori. I’m a justice girl all the way, but I still think these events call for a sober response not partying in the streets. That doesn’t mean I’m not relieved that an evil man is no longer on this planet to wreak more evil or that another has been caught so he can be brought to justice. But we’re in the midst of a realization that more of this can happen. We’re in a situation where people were killed and maimed. There are people out there suffering physically and emotionally, and some of the responses I’ve seen just don’t fit seem to take that into account… or fit comfortably into a civilized society.

  3. Carol says:

    Thank you, Lori for your honest, heart felt words. I have felt uneasy since watching the capture last night. The reveling and dancing in the streets sickened me actually and I could no longer watch it. Something just did not feel right about it. Is appeared as though we were watching a sport of some kind and our team won. But your words at least allowed me to say yes, quietly lest I am attacked for being un-American. God bless.

  4. I think the people of Boston taking to the streets was an honest expression of relief after days of terrible, terrible fear and tension (imagine having SWAT teams searching your home). But much of the Internet and radio rhetoric has gone beyond a cry for justice and armed itself with vengeance and hate. One thing we have always decried about “other” countries is when they drag our dead through the streets or parade their corpses like trophies as they celebrate victory. It’s no different if we do this through photo images on line.

    • I agree about the immediate reaction in Boston. Later, though, it became a college block party with students dancing, cheering and drinking. That got to me. Also agree that two wrongs don’t make a right. We have to rise above rather than sink to their level. I do believe we can celebrate justice in a respectful way.

    • Good point, Jen. I switched off the television shortly after the capture.

  5. Good words, Lori. While these men definitely needed to be stopped, the one who is dead now has no more chances to turn to Christ.

    More and more, I ponder and want to live by Micah 6:8. “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

    Justice without being tempered by mercy quickly turns to vengeance. Mercy without justice quickly becomes permissiveness. And humbling remembering our own sinful nature is the only way and and taking each step with God is the only way to accomplish any of this.

    Hugs to you.

    • I obviously didn’t get that last sentence proofread. Meant to say “And humbly remembering our own sinful nature and taking each step with God is the only way to accomplish any of this.” Need an Edit button like FB. LOL

  6. Justice, yes. Gleefully, morbidly rejoicing in the mutilated corpse of the enemy is barbarism. Have we as a nation no shame?

  7. Pam Manners says:

    Thank you once again, Lori, for saying what needs to be said. The poison rhetoric on the news — and worse on social media — is simply astounding and shameful.

    Jennifer and Don the Baptist — I feel exactly the same.

  8. Pam Manners says:

    I just came across a link about how the crowds of fans at NY Mets & St. Louis Blues games were chanting
    ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ upon hearing that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured. Again — yes, we should feel relieved and happy that he is no longer a threat to the people of Boston/Watertown.

    But the chanting makes me uneasy, putting in mind of long ago gladiator contests and Romans throwing Christians into the lions’ dens. We are such a prideful nation, so full of ourselves, as if everything we do is awesome and should be applauded and who would dare to believe they could take us down?

  9. WhiteStone says:

    I’ve found it is pointless to post comments online to news articles such as that. The rabid rabble will turn in a second and revile and condemn sober and sensible words.

    The cheering and celebrating make me uneasy, too, in that “terrorism” and the “jidhadist” mentality are not defeated by the death of one or both of these young men. Their “celebration” is short-sighted and what they celebrate is no cause for celebration…only sorrow that sin continues in this fallen world.

  10. Doug Blair says:

    Excellent comments! We never need to sink to the level of hate…even in the face of hate. It simply manifests fear or something worse. Day by day we are seeing the power of the Gospel turn enemies into family members. We should “think no evil” as the Corinthians love chapter directs. With practice, just like anything else, it becomes easier and easier…Doug

  11. WhiteStone says:

    Tried commenting earlier but it didn’t post. I agree with you Lori. Instead of wildly dancing in the streets we should be sorrowing that sin abounds. Chanting and celebrating won’t stop the next terrorist…there will always be those who hate and destroy.

  12. There’s a genuine need of people to express relief, to renew their hearts and spirits, and to recover but we should distinguish that mean-spirited, vengeance and pride. Keep commenting, White Stone. Sometimes you’re reaching the readers, not the other commenters, and it’s good to get used to being disliked.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What ever happened to “innocent, until proven guilty” and that meaning by a court of law? How sad!

  14. I have made it a practice to refrain from commenting unless I truly know what I’m speaking about. It is a tragedy, what happened in Boston. Another tragedy is the celebration of a lost soul. Our hearts should shatter over the hardness of heart in murderous young men. Actions like these ought to drive people like me to my knees and into prayer for souls that still breathe to receive the life that only Jesus can give.

    Thank you for this powerful post, Lori.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Dancing in the streets? Drinking, chanting, celebrating? Whatever happened to “pray for your enemies”? Whatever happened to hurting when others hurt? I’m sure the parents of the little boy who died are too busy grieving to celebrate that another boy was found bleeding to death. There is no satisfaction in the death of a man, even one who caused so many deaths and injuries. There is only awareness that Satan is still strong and we still need to spend more time praying than celebrating. We are not to judge but to obey. Will we even hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” if we are shouting and dancing in victory. Christ is the only victory. And we say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” MOMMA