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Moral Injury

Poised To Hurt Or To Help

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Poised To Hurt Or To Help

“Attack position – Move!”  “Agghhhh!”  It’s been many years since I went through Army Basic, but those were the words I heard over and over as we went through bayonet training. The “attack position” was the physical stance from which all thrusts of the bayonet and strikes with the butt of the weapon were executed.   

Tai-Kwon-Do has an attack position as well. So does boxing. If you’re right-handed, your left foot is forward, and you jab with your left fist and cover your jaw with your right.  I suppose every form of personal self-defense has an “attack position” – the position of the body when you are poised to strike back. 

I have often wondered if I should have devoted more time, attention, and effort to self-defense skills and to the martial arts, because – in my mind – “I’ve got to be prepared to defend myself.  It’s a dangerous world and I’m only a little guy, likely to get pushed around.  And the worst thing that can happen is for someone to get the better of me, to take advantage of me, to become someone’s victim.” 

But is that what I want to do – spend all my conscious moments poised to defend and strike back? Of course, I’m speaking more directly of the disposition of the heart than the position of the body. For there are millions of people who have never taken a single martial arts class, yet who are always mentally and emotionally poised to hurt and strike back. But that is no way to live. We should be poised to help, not to hurt; poised to bless, not to curse. 

In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, the apostle Paul challenges the practice of professing believers who “go on the attack” and get even with each other. He writes, “It’s a defeat for you already that you seek to get even … is it not better to be wronged than to wrong others, is it not better to be injured than to injure?” (1 Corinthians 6:7-8). 


The Scripture tells us that we overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). We defuse hatred with love. And we turn defeat and victimization to victory by forgiving and submitting to Christ. And did not Jesus Himself turn the abuse, tragedy, and injustice of the cross into the consummate victory over sin, Satan, and death (Colossians 2:15)? 

Instead of a preoccupation with “how to defend” or “how to get even,” isn’t it better to devote ourselves to the Word of God and to prayer – to be better fit to fight the greater conflict against the spiritual forces of wickedness (Ephesians 6:10-18)? Isn’t it better to expend our energies for training in righteousness – to be equipped for every good work?    

And if we assume a “snapping turtle” attitude, don’t we defeat our very distinctiveness as children of our heavenly Father (Luke 6:35-36)?  Don’t we nullify our purpose to be the light of the world? Don’t we become like salt that has lost its savor and is fit only to be cast out and trodden underfoot (Matthew 5:13-16)? 

Personal vigilance does not require us to be in a constant “attack position” – always on our guard, always skeptical of others, always paranoid. Personal vigilance requires us to be “at the ready” for every good work. Personal vigilance requires us to be poised to help and to bless. 

PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven, please deliver me from my own destruction from being consumed with my own anger and bitterness. Fill my heart with Your love and sweeten my sour spirit. Speak peace to the storm that rages in my soul and help me to be a true child of my heaven Father by loving and forgiving. Amen. 

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