If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26 ESV)
Have you ever been teased, insulted or bullied in some way? I am sure that every one of us has at some point in our lives. Did you want to get revenge? Did you want to make the perpetrator hurt just as much or more than you did? We are human, so it is only natural to feel that way.
As a believer in Christ, wanting to exact revenge on someone is ungodly, for Proverbs 12:16 (ESV) affirms, “The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.” Some people thrive on insulting and taunting others. It somehow makes them feel big. However, to follow them is to stoop to their level. Therefore, a prudent man is wise and goes to God for deliverance from such cruelty.
“While discussing how to ‘handle bullies’ at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, former First Lady Michelle Obama uttered, ‘When they go low, we go high,’ which has become her now-famous catchphrase. ‘Going low is easy, which is why people go to it,’ Obama said. ‘It’s easy to go low. It’s easy to lead by fear. It’s easy to be divisive. It’s easy to make people feel afraid.’” (Jade Scipioni)
We all can learn a valuable lesson from Mrs. Obama’s catch-phrase when dealing with insults and other challenges.
In an interview with The New York Times, Mrs. Obama took the time to explain what “going high” means. She explained, “It doesn’t mean you don’t feel the hurt, or you’re not entitled to an emotion. It means that your response has to reflect the solution. It shouldn’t come from a place of anger or vengefulness. Barack and I had to figure that out. Anger may feel good in the moment, but it’s not going to move the ball forward.” Further, she said in this interview, “For me, when you are a public figure in power, everything you do models what you want the country to do … Responding to a dog whistle with a dog whistle is the exact opposite of what you’d teach your child to do.”
Much of what Mrs. Obama shared in explaining a portion of her famous catch-phrase is that when we are challenged and insulted by others, we cannot display the same attitude as the aggressor. We must rise above it. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 ESV)
If those who bully and insult others would take the time to get to know them better, they might just find that they could be missing out on something very beautiful. “Bullies sought to make a 640-pound teen’s life miserable until he sang. He didn’t have many friends until people saw ‘who I really was on the inside,’ when he sang. If you have a chance to listen to him in this video, https://youtu.be/KbQadiVSIbE, singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ that will ripple goosebumps up your arms. He has the voice of an angel and has such an impressive vibrato for someone so young.” (God Updates) This young man, Justin Williamson, ended up using his gift for singing to help others and himself. He could have gone “low” when he was constantly being insulted, but he chose to go “high.”
Have a wonderfully blessed week, stay safe, get involved in righting the wrongs of social injustice, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)