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Lessons From Animals--"Abuse"

"And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8


In my last article, I talked about the importance of discipline. And though I briefly touched on it, I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about abuse.

I've noticed a strange, sad, and even tragic characteristic among dogs: the more you hit a dog, the less friendly it becomes towards others; yet the more fiercely loyal it becomes towards it's abuser. I'm sure animal experts could explain to me the psychology behind it; and some might even parallel it to battered women remaining loyal to their abusers. But knowing the psychology behind something does not make it any less tragic.

Dogs are innately born with love. It's almost as if--and I do not doubt it--they are programmed to love. Raised in a proper environment, a dog will show affection even to strangers. And not just dogs. My cat, Squawker, is the ultimate extrovert. When I lived in Montana--on a safer street than I do now--I used to leave the windows open for my cats to wander. Sneezy, more of an introvert, would set off for the fields--for hunt and adventure. Squawker, though, set off for the people. He even took it upon himself to make visits to my neighbors--in their homes! It saddens me to see an animal whose innate, instinctive love has been beaten out of it.

To prevent us from inadvertently (or deliberately) abusing each other, God has set down many guidelines, to help us treat each other with respect. Guidelines like Micah 6:8--"And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Jesus identified Leviticus 19:18, "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself", as one of the most important commands ever. He encouraged us to rise above retribution--to "turn the other cheek" (Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29). In Ephesians 4:26, Paul instructs us, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry"--resolve conflict quickly. And James writes, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:19 - 20). We see, again and again, God's desire throughout the Scriptures that we treat each other justly and appropriately. That we treat each other not with anger, but with love.

It sounds so easy, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it's not always as easy as it should be--but hopefully we'll try, day by day.


 In Christ,


--Pastor Dan


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