Sid Evans, writing for Southern Living magazine, said, “The horrific shooting that took the lives of nine churchgoers threatened to rip the city of Charleston, South Carolina apart. But by responding with public displays of compassion, love and unity, Charleston has shown us how to move forward.” Within hours, hundreds of flowers were piled outside the church forming a makeshift memorial. People – black, white, old, young lined up to pay their respect, and instead of riots there were vigils. Instead of warring, there was peace. The people of Charleston gave a “soft” response and turned away wrath (Proverbs 15:1 ESV).
“God,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he eulogized the victims of the Birmingham church bombing, “still has a way of wringing good out of evil.”
It comes through the response.
Evans wrote, “It’s hard for an average person to know how to respond to a tragedy like this.” It’s not only hard to know how to respond sometimes, even when we know better, it’s just easier, just preferred and sometimes just (we feel) justified for us to lash out, to get even, to fly off the handle, to seek vengeance. What do those responses bring us? More pain because harsh words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1 ESV).
James teaches, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 ESV). This is the thought that we must ever be cognizant of – what results from our responses. Do they honor God and produce His righteousness or do they grieve His Holy Spirit?
As Christians, we are called to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32 ESV), and if we do speak, we speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15 ESV); we get angry, but we do not sin (Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV).
THIS WEEK check your responses. Are they soft? Are they turning away wrath or stirring up anger? Ask God’s Holy Spirit to respond through you so that in your responding you produce His righteousness. Pray that your responses will be the “good” wrung from any evil situation.