Satan delights whenever man determines to disobey God, especially when that disobedience is directed towards Gods’ command for each man to love his neighbor as himself. I can only image Satan’s joy over the events of the past week. Satan was thrilled when a police officer chose to apply undue brutality without mercy and a man died. He was ecstatic when the anger of hundreds of people over this and other evils spilled over into wrath and violence and when that wrath and violence was poured out on the very communities in which those people lived. Sin and its consequences has spread like wildfire through these events; they’re spreading even as I write these words.
I’m going to assume that you don’t want Satan’s joy to continue; as such, I’ll also assume that you are not going to respond by justifying any evil that’s occurred or by allowing it to motivate you to do evil. Know this though: It will bring Satan further joy if you simply do nothing. Salt that has lost its flavor is fit to be cast out and trodden under the foot of men (Matthew 5:13). You must do something. What should you choose to do?
You could choose to condemn. It’s an easy, natural choice. What the police officer did was wrong. What the rioters are doing is wrong. One or the other or hopefully both may be making you angry and voicing that anger may assuage it somewhat. The Bible contains many examples of the faithful condemning the evil of others; the Psalms are littered with such language. If this is your choice, my recommendation though is to remember two things: 1) The execution of condemnation ultimately belongs to God, so maybe it should be God who hears your anger more so than the world (Romans 12:19); 2) Jesus did not come into this world to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:17).
You could instead choose to care, or, as Paul instructs, “put on tender mercies” (Colossians 3:12). It’s possible that the police officer at the center of this controversy is a violent racist; it’s also possible that he just made a really bad choice. Either way, it’s certain that his soul is in danger of hell and that his behavior has brought terrible consequences on himself, his coworkers, and his kin. Likewise, it’s possible that the rioters are greedy, unthinking radicals making the most of a terrible situation; it’s also possible, even probable, that some of them have been victims of terrible racism and oppression and are acting out of desperation. Either way, it’s certain that their souls are in danger of hell and that their behavior has brought terrible consequences on themselves and their communities.
Condemning is natural and easy; caring is foreign and difficult. However, I’m certain that if we’re going to keep what these people set aside in the first place – loving our neighbor as ourselves – we’re going to have to care. As caring individuals, we’re going to have to learn to be quiet sometimes. We’re going to have to move outside of our comfort zone and consider how these events have impacted those of a different race or background than us. We’re going to have listen to their stories and bear their burdens. And, above all, we’re going to have to care enough to work to bring the One Who came not to condemn but to save into the life of every impacted individual so that everyone can experience the love that we have experienced and learn to perpetuate love among their neighbors.
Don’t let Satan win!