Matthew 7:15-20 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Unless someone is an unfortunate sociopath (poor souls), we humans are generally not that terrible when we first start out. Granted, any parent can attest to the inherited “fallen nature” living out in our children as they body slam their siblings for a toy they want. But it’s really not out of sheer malice. It doesn’t become malicious until we walk more through this life and we begin to acquire an arsenal of hurts and scars that give us weapons. Weapons that could harm others.
It’s difficult to rise above vengeful and angry thoughts when it comes to abuse situations. And rightfully so. But it can quickly turn from righteous anger to unholy wrath. This topic strikes close to my heart, and unfortunately to many of yours as well. When I begin to feel overwhelmed by the anger, I force myself to stop… And remember that an abuser most likely was once the abused. It’s the curse that keeps on cursing.
Even little hurts can have a ripple effect into generations - like families who have a hard time showing affection or bury themselves in work. It can leave a child starved for affection, and thus can lead to either over-indulgence or stoicism, like their predecessors. Just like good things that get passed on from generation to generation (holiday traditions, for example), so too can bad habits and even abuse.
With all the abuse in the Church (and quite frankly, all around us in schools, homes, colleges, anywhere) we see with great sadness that hurt people hurt people. The pain inflicted on the abuser spirals into a tornado that sucks him or her and all those surrounding them into a vortex of destruction.
By no means am I excusing abusive behavior. On the contrary. Ferocious wolves in sheep’s clothing have no right to remain near the sheep! As the verses above state, we must be vigilant for our selves, for our own families, and for all of God’s children. However, I challenge all of us to think on these scandals (and any abuse case) with a heart like Christ’s. God has great fury for sin. But great compassion for the sinner. If we knew perhaps the hurt inflicted on the abusers…maybe our hearts would feel less wrath and more pity. Maybe our prayers would become less rigid and more softened.
Hurt people may hurt people. But let me say with great joy that healed people can heal people, brothers and sisters!
I know a woman who grew up in a terribly abusive home. When she had children, she chose to end the cycle of abuse that had continued for generations. Generations! Praise God, through His grace and their strong faith, she and her husband created an amazing life for their two kids and saved them from living the same trauma. And now she gets to see her grandchildren growing up in loving and safe homes, because she chose to cling to God’s fatherhood rather than carry on the abuse of her earthly father.
It takes time and grace and good fellowship to heal. Let’s pray for all the victims. ALL the victims. And pray for strength ourselves to overcome any hurts that cause us to hurt others.
Take a Victory and a Blessing, my friend.