Incite – a verb -meaning to move to action: stir up: spur on: urge on – which may or may not imply initiating. This according to Merriam-Webster.
We’ve heard a lot over the last week or so about numerous individuals inciting others to carry out violent acts against people and property at the US Capitol. When I contemplated that a bit, I was disturbed by one inconvenient fact.
Every person is responsible for their own actions.
As a kid my mother (with simple logic) when I used the excuse that my friend “Butch started it – he made me do it” would say “if Butch jumped off a bridge would you jump off a bridge too?” Great question.
We use another word that seems to parallel the meaning of incite but with a much more positive ring to it – motivate. Yet, even motivating someone to do something requires them to choose to do it. I often try to motivate my wife to work at something around the house on a Saturday morning. After a long week at work, she just looks at me like I have two heads. My response with a smile on my face is usually – “this is like pushing a rope”.
Here’s an example in God’s Word that will further clarify my point.
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Job 2:3 (emphasis added)
Two things happened here. Satan incited God and by permission did the same to Job. Yet Job made a choice. He didn’t use his circumstances as an excuse to sin.
We can choose to learn a lot from the events that unfolded on Capitol Hill. As Christians, we need to label sin as sin. We need to choose a path that best represents our belief that God is in control and that he owns it all. To be incited to do anything sinful is a distortion of truth. There are consequences to making any and all decisions. Some good. Some bad. Being motivated to do something positive is a lot different than being incited to violence – BUT – the decision ultimately rests with us and we’re responsible for our own actions. Blame shifting is not an option.
Choose well friends. Choose love.
And that’s the memo.