Wishing Evil Upon Others
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Early in the pandemic, I honestly thought everyone would pull together to fight a common enemy. I was obviously quite mistaken as Covid seemed to expose our division, generating tremendous animosity and conflict. When (other) physicians would hear of those who embraced internet remedies over prescribed measures, I know it was difficult for them (not me of course) to avoid wishing some small calamity on those who did so. I want you to make a full recovery, but I kind of hope your poor choices make you miserable for a while. Likewise, I know of some of those on the other side of the issue (not you of course), hoped that those of us who got vaccinated, would have some unpleasant side effect. I don’t want you to die, but I do hope you experience some painful consequences from your “proven vaccine”.
This, unfortunately, is our nature. When we’re insulted, we insult in return. When we’re hurt, we want those who hurt us to be hurt. No one needs to teach us this. It’s simply an impulsive, ingrained, genetic response to being offended. If you hurt me, I want to hurt you. Even if I don’t actually hurt you, I will spend a tremendous amount of time hoping that you get hurt.
Our nature, of course, isn’t always right or helpful. Nowhere is this more obvious than in today’s passage, where Paul taught that, as Christians, we must not repay evil for evil. Rather, we must do good to all. Paul didn’t say that we must do good to those who deserve it. He said we must do good even to those who hurt us. The gospel of Christ is anything but natural. Paul didn’t say, Follow your heart. Rather, he said, Do what’s right, even when your heart is screaming the exact opposite.
When we hurt in response to hurt, we sin in response to sin. In following our impulsive nature, we make our situation worse. Now, we’re not just hurt. Now we’re hurt and we’re acting in an evil manner, just like those who’ve offended us. Even if we don’t do anything hurtful in return, we often allow the other person to control our minds as we obsess about the conflict. If we want peace, we must let it go. If we desire the lives for which we’re created, we must often ignore our impulsive nature, doing the opposite. In doing good, we may not undo the hurt we’ve experienced, but we can maintain our own integrity, follow God, find peace, and avoid making everything worse.