If they should say,
Evildoers: Come on! Everyone, hide and let’s wait to see whom we can beat to a pulp. We’re going to jump some unsuspecting chumps for no reason at all. We’ll have our way with them, and when we’re through, there will be nothing left, as if their bodies were swallowed whole by the grave’s dark pit.
We’ll take whatever we want—all their wealth and their fancy clothes and when we’re through, we’ll have piles of their treasure for our own. You have to join us; forget about God. We’re going to rake in the goods, and we’ll share all we take!
My son, do not join them; keep well away from their violent, destructive paths. For they run right away, every time, to do wrong, and they are thirsty for blood. You see, it makes no sense to bait the net and set the trap while the bird is watching, But these hiding in the shadows and waiting to spill innocent blood are really just hastening their own destruction! By giving in to their sinful desires, they set themselves up to be ambushed.
This is what happens to everyone who tries to profit by violence; violence will eventually rob them of their very lives
Proverbs 1:11-19 (The VOICE)
This passage speaks to a gang mentality. Staying away from those who want to hurt others seems like pretty straightforward advice. But, it is too easy to blind ourselves to the fact that we live in a country whose culture has become defined by the very aggressive mentality described in this passage. We usually do it in the name of freedom or making the world better.
For whom are we making the world better? Whose interest are we really concerned about? From the beginning of humanity, the strongest groups have had their way and their way usually pays little concern to the needs of the weaker members. I’ve heard especially callous people mutilate Darwin and call this survival of the fittest.
We will learn, as all of the great civilizations before have learned, that our need to be the strong arm of the world has corrosive effects on the heart of our culture. We exert our will on the world with might and violence. By doing this, we also harden our own hearts against compassion for our own who are not strong enough to be “useful.” Eventually, our culture will pay. We will collapse at the hands of another more powerful group or as the result of a cultural heart attack.
Pay special attention to the final line of these verses. The Gospel of Matthew has Jesus say, “People who live by the sword will die by the sword” (Matt 26:52). While some would use the Bible to condone violence, I point to verses like this (and many others) to cry out for non-violence. Doing harm to others isn’t only outward. Doing violence destroys the spirit of the person committing it. If you live your lives hurting and exploiting people, it will come back to you. If you spend your lives serving and loving, that will come back to you as well. Everything you send out into the world will come back to you. That is the interconnected nature of creation. What do you want to receive?