“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
I used to hear that all the time when I was a kid. I don’t hear people say that nowadays. Heck, you’re more likely to hear someone going on and on about how words hurt a person’s self-esteem. Certainly, words can hurt – I’m not trying to deny that. On the contrary, I think that only supports my point, which is this: We need to teach our children to process insults appropriately. For that matter, many adults could stand a good lesson (or reminder) on this topic.
The basic assumption we need to remember is that there is evil in the world. Whether they realize it or not, or are committed to it or not, some people are doing evil. These people don’t care about your precious feelings or your self-esteem. In fact, they want to hurt your feelings and manipulate you to their advantage. They are not persuaded by logic. They don’t give in when defeated. They simply change tactics. If they can’t think of anything else, they’ll call you a bigot, even without any shred of evidence or truth. We need to be ready for these evil-doers. So do our kids.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16
We cannot take it for granted that everyone is basically good. Nor do we need to treat everyone with suspicion. We need to choose our friends carefully. There are at least four kinds of friends.
- Takers – These are the friends that constantly need something and can drain your energy.
- Mentors – These are people from whom you take. Hopefully, you aren’t draining them, but you certainly benefit most from the relationship.
- Buddies – These are the guys you hang out with. There’s not a lot of depth to the relationship, but there doesn’t have to be. You’re just buddies.
- True Friends – Not that the others aren’t true. These relationships, however, are deep and mutually beneficial. You can tell each other the harsh truth, when necessary. You both give and take from the relationship and you build each other up. “As iron sharpens iron…”
Enemies are easy. They all fall in the same category, but their attack strategies are endless and varied. If we are as wise as serpents and innocent as doves, we will recognize our enemies by the fruit they bear. Then, our strategy is simple.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44
I didn’t say it was easy. Just simple.