Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach… (Proverbs 18:3, NIV)
“PICKY” or CONTROLLING?
I once knew a woman who drove her family crazy trying to please her. I watched them go above and beyond what she told them to do and each time there was always something not quite right, or that could have been done even a tiny bit differently in her eyes. One time when one of them did gave her exactly what she wanted for Christmas, after some time and effort spent searching for it (it was a clothing item), she hesitate for a few moments, then said: “But it’s too pretty.”
Well, there’s just no pleasing some people. And I must say also that as frustrating as it was for her family to live around her un-pleasable, so to speak (and unpleasant), attitude I believe the woman truly wanted the best for everyone and in her mind she was helping them. Or so she said, from time to time. She certainly worked hard for them during her life. They just regarded her as “picky.”
But what I’m discussing in this post is something very different, not just a perfection-driven or a picky personality. I am referencing people who will never be pleased–or appeased.
Because that’s not what they really want.
They want control.
You can bend over backward being compromising/reasonable/”nice,” and They. Remain. Angry. Because it’s not enough–nor will it ever be. But while you are trying, it buys them time to work their real plan. More on this below.
You might say you are “damned if you do (try to please or appease them)” and “damned if you don’t.”
I believe some of them even qualify as abusive, similar to a domestic abuser whose target/victim keeps trying to “do the right thing,” hoping that whatever it is he or she needs to change, or perhaps get the abuser to understand, will finally be accomplished, and the mental, emotional, verbal, physical, and/or spiritual abuse will end. But no. Not with that category of human.
I have also noticed, and this is the focal point of this post, such angry, impossible to please people seem to run rampant in the political arena.
No matter how many concessions, compromises, conciliatory and/or “bi-partisan efforts” take place with them and for them, it seems it is never enough. Like the woman I once knew, they are never satisfied.
But it’s more than that.
With each good-faith effort to please or appease them, or even just to cooperate in the spirit that has made the peaceful transition of power at least in the United States a hallmark of our nation’s values and efforts to retain our unity, this group of people seem to only dig their heels in deeper and dig at those who are not in lock-think with their ideological fervor.
But the point here isn’t to point a finger at the angry, ambitious ones, the point is to share the reason–and it’s really a spiritual one–I think they are so angry and getting angrier (and violent in their vitriol) it seems, by the day, and why I think they are also becoming more and more impossible to work with, let alone get along with.
The clues are in the epigraph above: Proverbs 18:3.
ON “WICKEDNESS” AND “CONTEMPT” AND WHY YOU CANNOT PLEASE “THEM”
“Wickedness” (rasha), in the context of the Scripture verse, is defined as, “evil…offensive…criminal…hostile (to God or His people)…morally wrong.” In the secular, political arena cited in this post, I would add, “hostile to…anyone who believes differently than they do.”
“Contempt” (buz) is defined as, “springing from pride and wickedness.”
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges renders the definition thus: “when the wicked cometh, all these evil things, contempt, ignominy (shame) and reproach, come with him.”
In other words, the group of people referenced here are not just picky perfectionists who, at least in their view, want everyone to do things exactly right. This group has muddled motives, perhaps even “wicked” (let the reader decide).
They are prideful (often exhibiting an elitist, arrogant, and condescending attitude) and hostile to their opponents.
Most importantly–and to why, exactly, it is so very frustrating to deal with them even for those who attempt to do so as gifted facilitators, speakers, preachers, educators, politicians, and lawmakers–: THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE RIGHT AND ALL OTHERS ARE WRONG.
(Of course, there are some who know very well what they are doing to further their political agenda, and it is not to rule over any government “of, by, and for the people,” but to take over.)
More specifically, and to our situation today in the United States (and elsewhere in the world), if one is not on board with this group who self-identify as wanting to fundamentally transform this nation from a freedom-loving representative republic to an iteration of the socialist/communist/Marxist form of government, watch out.
Nothing less than their view will do.
And relentlessly, they will pursue…
The history of the real end goal of such a transformation from freedom-based to s/c/M forms of government (and the last century figuratively and literally bleeds with illustrations) always ends in destruction, no matter how thick the haze of idealism in the sales ads up front, no matter how utopian-sounding the hoped-for outcome. That is to say, hoped-for in the eyes of those who are ignorant of history and/or the young who are always easiest to persuade while critical thinking is still in the developmental phase.
But in the spiritual context (which also applies in the secular), I think it well put, here: “The contempt here spoken of is not that with which the sinner [or radical revolutionary, in the secular context] is regarded, but that which he himself learns to feel for all that is pure and good and lovely (Psalm 31:18). [in other words] ‘When the wicked cometh into the depth of evil, he despiseth,’ he turns a despiser.” (Pulpit Commentary).
Bringing this up to the 21st-century political vernacular, if you represent other side of the issue or issues, it’s not just your ideas the radicals despise, it’s you and everything you stand for and represent.
For example, have you noticed of late how what began as a political argument over people and their policies has now mushroomed to a condemnation of an entire race of people who by ancestry and skin color represent the “hated other” political philosophy?
Chilling, isn’t it?
How all of this applies to what some radical political activists might attempt to hide behind a verbal veneer of “inclusion and tolerance and rights for all” is that fair play may well go the way of civil discourse as this new, evil, if you will, intent takes deeper root in our nation, an intent that is also lethal to the cause of real inclusion, tolerance, and rights for all, not only because such fundamental transformations require massive political and societal upheaval, but because of the inherent pride, elitism–and, well, contempt–in which its devotees hold all others.
When human beings turn from ordinary anger, to anger + blind contempt the Rubicon has likely been crossed, the tipping point, past.
God help us if this is the case.
Vive la résistance! they scream–brandishing the modern equivalents of swords and pitchforks, but it’s death to their resistors, first in thought, then in word, then (hopefully not) in deed–that echoes forward from all other such evil totalitarian movements inflicted on mankind and also sold in the guise of good.
But it’s only a bill of goods, not the real thing.
As both citizens and believers, we need to know when to speak and act, and how, and when not to, when confronted by the fellow travelers on the road to what many regard as political perdition,* because it is an arguably new and more dangerous era in the public square, and many seriously doubt we are “going back to normal,” at least not any time soon.
BUT TAKE HEART, AND SOME WORDS FOR THE WISE
Here are some words to strengthen and encourage:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18)
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:2-5)
And don’t forget to “armor up” before leaving home because our real enemy in every battle between good and evil isn’t a talking head on television, a social media celebrity, a community organizer, a politician, a radical activist, or a power-monger who knows well the ways of revolution.
This enemy (aided and abetted by his witting–and unwitting–comrades in the flesh) is the archetypal wicked one who holds contempt for all and craves the destruction of all–the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.
He is truly one who does not discriminate.
And he doesn’t care about political parties or anything else.
He just prowls around to see whatever means will work.
FIELD NOTES; For many contemporary, true stories of how God can literally deliver us from evil, I invite you to take a look at a series of such tales in a collection of devotionals based on the verses in Psalm 91 (free for downloading): “In the Midst of the Fray, Psalm 91 Devotionals.”)
*Here is a discussion on this topic from my “encouragement in hard times” series titled “On the Wisdom of When to Speak and When Not to Speak”. Other, related topics are found in my survival tools series.