“It’s really true what they say. Every person is half sheep and half wolf. Half good and half evil. It’s important to be careful about what side you feed.”
Several weeks back (ironically, before the recent surge in violence and malicious attacks) my dad was talking about the nature of humans. We were discussing how each individual, essentially, has the same potential to be a shining light or a darkening shadow.
With every confrontation, we, as humans, seem to have an equal surge in desire to gain revenge and dish out hurt as well as to maintain grace and show kindness. Perhaps, in the moment, the desire for revenge becomes overwhelming to the point that it’s the only emotion we recognize. But later, when the situation has fizzled out, we often look back, wishing we had handled the situation better. And in moments before confrontation arises, we hope and pray that we will be able to handle these situations gracefully, rather than dreaming of the next opportunity we will have to be unkind. Yet, in the moment, we still experience those desires to behave poorly.
The cartoons that depict an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other pretty accurately depict the inner struggles that we face as humans. Paul even wrote about these struggles in Romans 7:
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Romans 7:15, 19
Paul experienced the inward struggles of the flesh and the Spirit. He desired to chase after that which was good, but he found himself still practicing that which was evil.
A while back, I encountered a picture of a conversation on Tumblr that pertained to this topic.
The original poster wrote,
I’m a bad person who thinks bad thoughts like “ew what is that girl wearing?” and then remember that I’m supposed to be positive about all things and then think “no she can wear what she wants, forget what other people say, dang girl you look fabulous!” and I’m just a teeny bit hypocritical tbh
That comment alone resonated with me. Maybe because we, as females, have a bad habit of thoughts like these. It seems socially acceptable to critique other women daily. For some of us, maybe thoughts of criticism have even become our first thoughts more times in a day than we care to admit. But like this individual, I often catch myself. I try to correct my thoughts, thinking how I would feel if someone said those things about me. And then, I get disappointed, hating that my first thoughts are of criticism rather than admiration.
But the part of this post that made me really love it happens to be the commenter’s response.
“I was always taught by my mother that the first thought that goes through your mind is what you have been conditioned to think. What you think next defines who you are.”
What you think next, defines who you are.
As always, I think the wisdom of a mother rings true. In many cases, I agree that the first thought we have often stems from what we have been taught to think. But more than that, our first thought stems from the things we have been feeding ourselves.
“45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6: 45
“Above all else, guard your heart,
For out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23
Paul’s struggles in conjunction with these verses may make the struggle of good versus evil seem hopelessly against us. But, thankfully, we have a God on our side who is willing and able to help us.
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38
The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. But, as Paul said, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The fight of good vs evil requires effort on our part, but it also includes a God who is willing to offer help when we struggle and grace when we fall. Our responsibility, ultimately, is too monitor the things we allow into our hearts and minds.
I think Paul summed it up pretty nicely in Philippians 4:8,
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Meditate on these things. Put forth effort into feeding your heart praiseworthy things, and produce actions that will flow, effortlessly, from a heart that is seeking to be like Christ.
In light of recent events, it is more obvious than ever that we need people acting out of good hearts. Hearts that have chosen everyday to be fed by good and to nurture the sheep within.
To lead people to Christ and achieve peace, we need more hearts that are revoking the evil and drinking in the Holy.
So, with every choice you make in what to watch, or hear, or see, or speak, or do, remember….
BE CAREFUL NOT TO FEED THE WOLF.