Sticks And Stones: Why We Should Learn To Forgive Others
By Brad Hewey
How should we react to those who mock us? What does God ask us to do? Brad shares why it’s important that we learn to forgive our oppressors.
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Sticks And Stones
Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me. As a kid, I remember hearing that a lot, and at times saying it in my own defense. I think I had what you’d call a fairly tough skin and was possibly relieved that I was subject to a bit of name calling, as opposed to the more painful aspect of a punch in the face.
But although the expression may work for some, in responce to name calling and character abuse, the sentiment is incorrect. Name calling can inflict great emotional pain, and leave lasting scars that effect the recipient for a lifetime. In my childhood years, names and insults hurled by a foul mouthed kid stayed in the playground or wound down at the bus stop. In the world we now live in, social media brings an entirely new dynamic to character abuse.
In 2013 the Nova Scotia government passed a law aimed at cyber bullying in response to the death of a young teenager. Rehtaeh Parsons story struck a cord with Canadians and drew national media attention, when sadly, she took her own life as a result of a smear campaign…online bullying that caused her unbearable emotional pain. Clearly the use of sticks and stones or other literal weapons weren’t what caused the overwhelming heartbreak, it was name calling and character defamation….an emotional attack.
Ignoring The Call To Love One Another
Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”. Verses 31 and 32 go on to say: “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice….and be ye kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christs sake hath forgiven you.”
God’s word, Gods way; utilizing the love of God is always the answer. Sadly, conflicts small and large, from a fit of name calling to something as horrifying as suicide bombers wreaking havoc around the globe: all are results of man ignoring the call from God to “love one another.”
Ridicule In The Bible
We might say that name calling and bullying have evolved in this electronic age, but it certainly is nothing new. Think of how Noah in Genesis, was scoffed at, ridiculed, and thought a fool for declaring that God was to soon pass judgement on mankind. Noah faced years of doubters, scoffers, name callers…yet he was faithful to God, and delivered himself, his family, and the animals of God’s creation through the colossal flood.
David references many times in the Psalms, the bitter tongues of his enemies. It is especially poignant when the particular Psalm is prophetic, pointing to the Messiah.
Psalm 22 bears out many of the events that were fulfilled by Jesus at the cross. In verse 7 and 8 we’re reminded of how Jesus would be mocked.
“All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him seeing he delighted in him.”
Those words, like many other in that Psalm, were fulfilled as Jesus was being put to death at Calvary. These were painful words, these were words of utter contempt.
The actual event, as recorded in the Gospels, shows once again, these insults were clearly aimed at punishing our Lord. In Mark 15 we read: “they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads and saying, ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself and come down from the cross…He saved others, himself he cannot save.” It was words, false accusations strewn together… that persuaded Pilate to render the judgement of death by crucifixion upon our Lord.
Jesus even in those darkest of moments, embodied love in its greatest aspect.
1 Peter 2:23 “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”
Learn To Forgive
When we suffer at the hands of others, we either feel like withdrawing to nurse our wounds, or retaliating in anger or frustration. We too can commit the burden to the Lord. “Cast your burdens upon me for my yoke is light….and ye will find rest unto your souls.” Committing our cares to the Lord does not mean we have to remain silent. It is important to recognize the difference between defending ourselves, and retaliation. When the nasty barbs of a sharp tongue are being directed our way, without merit, with intent to hurt and harm, we need at times, to defend our character. But if that is what’s needed, God will provide an opportunity. He will open that door, or lead that charge for us. But he will require first, that we put forgiveness in our hearts, for the oppressor. It is not always easy to respond in love, especially when the attack is from one who seems to be always at our heels. But God asks us to forgive in abundance. When Peter put forward the question of how many times one should forgive his brother,“ Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but until seventy times seven.”
Brad offers up practical, scriptural advice from a perspective borne out of everyday life encounters. As we live and move and have our being…it’s the individual life lessons that most often present the greatest challenges, but can yield the richest blessings. We’ve all, as Christians had those faith affirming moments, where we’ve had an overwhelming sense of God’s spirit, or his very presence “at a particular but, maybe random time”.
Brad was born and still resides in a small community in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, where he and his wife Karen raised their 3 children. Brad & Karen fellowship at the Greenland Bible Chapel, where Brad serves as an elder.
Brad loves meeting and engaging with people. His background in sales has provided opportunities to travel throughout the US and Canada, networking with people from all walks of life. Brad is a singer/songwriter, and has recorded 3 Christian albums. Songs from his “Brighter Day” release, have aired on Christian Radio stations across Canada and two of Brad’s albums are on HopeStreamRadio’s playlist.
Images Courtesy Of:
Bullied: James Sutton
Man in hood: Sandeep Swarnkar
Sitting: Ben White
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