Contributed by Vic Kohring
Jesus said in Matthew 5:44 to, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." I've found loving my enemies to be one of life's most difficult tasks and I'm sure many can relate. Who wants to love someone who hates you and wishes you harm?
The Bible teaches that forgiving those who trespass against you is the crucial first step toward healing when wronged by another. And that includes, "Loving your neighbor as yourself," as directed in Mark 12:31. It's also a test of one's sincerity as a Christian and a true measure of faith.
Opening your heart and loving someone who has lashed out and caused you harm proves that God lives in you, and you therefore have no malice or desire to get even or harbor animosity as is so commonplace in today's society, especially among politicians. John F. Kennedy once proudly boasted that, "I don't get mad, I get even." Not the right attitude, but typical of the culture of Washington and Juneau.
When you've been in the public eye for as long as I have and are the target of criticism as a strong private sector advocate, you naturally develop lots of opposition, especially from the liberal, pro-big government crowd.
Most politicians shy away from such controversy because they're too preoccupied with getting re-elected and don't want to offend anyone. That's why fundamental changes in society are so slow to occur, as very few have the courage to stick their neck out and risk the consequences. I chose to jump in the fray head first because I promised my constituents change. Yet it came with a big price.
I'm blessed to have many friends, but a large number of people with bad intentions jumped on the anti-Vic bandwagon through the years because of my proactive conservatism, or simply because I worked hard and was achieving success. Even among my legislative colleagues in the capitol city, there were those so filled with narcissism, resentment and jealousy, that they remind me of a bunch of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wannabes running around seeking to sabotage others.
I think of one legislator whom I befriended after assisting with legislation, but who later became envious of my modest accomplishments. One day the temptation became too great when he chose to backstab me involving leftist press assaults alleging I did not live in Alaska because I owned Lower 48 property. This guy literally approached a newspaper reporter and claimed I was shirking constituent responsibilities because I was supposedly away on travel to my outside "home", adding fuel to the fire. He might as well have handed the reporter a knife to stab me as he aided and abetted those bent on doing me in. And he was a Christian to boot. It was difficult to trust anyone at the capitol after that experience because if you can't trust a friend and a fellow believer, who can you?
Another individual, a former state commissioner turned lobbyist, was a friend for years that I assisted with projects of mutual importance. But when I became embroiled in the Polar Pen legal mess involving a silly bribery claim over a hundred bucks that also claimed U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, the guy became a turncoat by making false allegations about me on the witness stand. It turned out he was in legal hot water himself and was seeking favor of the prosecutors so he'd be let off the hook. He was even bought off by the government for over 200 grand to testify against me. Money ultimately won out over principal and friendship. Sadly, this guy was also a professed Christian who attended a Wasilla church.
As a mere human and imperfect Christian myself, I still struggle with an occasional hardened heart toward others from my past when reflecting back as I was scarred so heavily. My remedy is to seek God's help to remain positive and not get bogged down with resentment. My goal is always to forgive, forget and to move on, but it's not easy when you've been burned.
I found it helps when I try to understand where someone is coming from as to why they choose to be hostile as people can be bitter for many reasons. They could have lost a loved one, are facing illness or simply frustrated with life and are seeking to vent. Ungodly influences might also play a role. It's no excuse to despitefully use and treat others poorly, but it does help to know what motivates an individual as it makes it easier not to be so quick to judge.
On the cross, Jesus looked down upon those who hated him and said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." If God's own son can forgive and show love for his fellow man, I can too.