How to defeat prejudice in my own heart
By Greg Sanders
Listen to any media outlet for very long and you will discover a long list of acceptable and unacceptable ways to deal with the prejudice that is active in our society. It seems like everyone has a solution for how to deal with other people’s prejudices. Perhaps, the question should be “how do I defeat the prejudice in my own heart?”
Some of the earliest and most powerful influences in my life have come from people of color. I have never considered myself racist, prejudiced or hateful towards any group of people. I hope my relationship with people of different color and background would testify that to be true. However, I readily admit that only those who are different from me can confirm whether my actions or attitudes have displayed care and concern. I do know that through the years my own heart has changed. Though I did not consider myself to be filled with prejudice in years past, there is now appreciation and love for others that I just did not possess earlier. Therefore, I wonder, actually, I know, there is always more room for me to personally defeat the evil attitudes that would love to settle in my heart.
So how do I defeat the prejudice that wants to make its home in my heart?
- Ask God to continually examine your heart.
Any attitude that is not God pleasing will continue to create havoc, hate and hostility until a person repents. The sin we do not repent of we always repeat. It is not knowledge of our sin that sets us free, rather, it is the turning from it and embracing a greater love that creates a new heart in us. Psalm 139 provides a great prayer for us to follow. The Psalmist reminds us to pray “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
- Love someone when no one is looking.
Real love does not care who sees or who does not see it in action. Love just loves. In our Instagram culture, it seems love is more like a photo opportunity then a life giving opportunity. I am convinced that real care and concern for people is shown best when the camera is off, no one is looking and the instance is not leveraged for gain of anysort. 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. We must take moments regularly to love one another with action.
- Love someone when everyone is looking.
I know you’re thinking, Greg, you are sort of contradictory here, please hear me out. Though the bulk of our love should be done off screen. However, we do have to realize our world needs an example to follow. Jesus even said in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
- Pray for those who are being exploited and those exploiting the situation.
In every crisis there is always the need that has to be addressed and there will also be people serving their own purposes. We must pray for the immediate need and the immediate people being affected by the injustice. We also must pray for those who are exploiting the situation so that resentment of their actions does not cloud the real need. Prayer is the best weapon in repealing hate.
- Invest time with someone who looks different than you.
Nothing crosses barriers and settles differences like spending time with someone one. Assumptions are confronted with actualities when you spend time with someone. We all have a tendency to spend all of our time and have all our discussions with people who think like us, talk like us and look like us. This echo chamber of similar voices can make us deaf to meaningful messages we need to hear.
Defeating prejudice is not a one time event. It is an ongoing commitment and practice to love others as ourselves and forgive others as we have been forgiven. Prejudice does damage, not just to the ones it acts against, but against our own souls as well.
Join me in prayer today that God will defeat any and all prejudice that exists in our hearts, in our church, in our community and in our world. Pray that God will use us, HIS CHURCH as a healing agent in our world today.