In Part Two of this series we talked about the camouflage that evil uses being an exaggerated version of itself so that those who talk about the more subtle version of evil that is active in our lives look like oddballs. And tomorrow we will talk about why evil would bother with such a sneak attack in the first place as opposed to simply storming the gate and claiming victory. But today, and we’re dealing with these in an order that only makes sense in my own head, I want to get into more of a definition. What is this evil that I’m talking about? If it’s so sneaky, then what does it look like? Again, let’s steer clear of the theological concepts and instead focus on how evil appears in our everyday lives.
In Part One of this series, a commenter really defined the concept I am trying to explain here perfectly. He described evil as a distance from God. He wrote about a propensity to gently push God to the side because work is calling, and the lawn doesn’t mow itself, and all the daily tasks that get in our way of communing with God on a daily basis. And he’s so right. Distance from God. Just saying it makes me feel a little sad, and perhaps that is because I see that distance so much in my own life.
But what does evil do once it sneaks inside? What does it do with this distance from God? I am not at all discounting the dramatic forms of evil we have seen in our history. The rise of Adolph Hitler. The atrocities that take place in the Sudan. The mother who drowns her own children. Or the student to opens fire in his own school. These forms of evil are real and they really did, and do, happen. But again I, thankfully, have never personally experienced them. So to a lesser degree I can still distance myself from them much like the Hollywood devil from Part Two of this series.
I am talking about the evil that lives inside me as a still quiet voice that never allows me to enjoy a victory without first reminding me of all I still have not accomplished. We hear God described as a still quiet voice as well, don’t we? And that’s no mistake on the part of evil. How often are we unsure whether what we are hearing in our own minds is guidance or correction from God, or temptation from evil? It’s amazing how similar they sound.
I’d like to list off some examples of what I hear in my mind that I am convinced is evil, and I am hoping that all of you will add your own.
- “You have failed at this. So don’t bother trying again.” This is perhaps the most common and most destructive phrase of that still quiet voice in my life. I have a lot of goals. I want to succeed and meet my requirements at work. But I miss that mark again and again. I want to lose weight, but I just keep gaining it. I want to break free from sin in my life, but I just keep falling back into it. So why bother to keep trying? I hear that in my head constantly. And when that voice wins out I end up losing an entire day sitting on the couch watching television. Because…. why bother? This is perhaps the most debilitating form of evil within me right now. But I will keep fighting it.
- “You pull this off, you’ll just be expected to do it again.” This is an offshoot of the first, and I theorize that evil pulls this one out when you are dangerously close to achieving a goal. See, that cannot be allowed to happen. If you feel the joy of pulling off a difficult task then you are only going to want to do so again and then evil starts to lose it’s grip. As a desperation move, evil has a way of working in the thought that we should actually be afraid of success because it will only make others expect more of us. And don’t we have enough on our plates already?
- “You will not fit in.” This one used to be huge for me. I didn’t talk much about my faith because I had an intense fear of looking weird. I have had a lot of success in getting over this one, but I know that it is a heavy weight for many. And this isn’t limited only to faith. If you do a great job on this presentation, you’ll no longer be part of the ‘just getting by’ crowd at work. If you push this agenda that you believe in on your kids (faith, food, exercise, hard work) they won’t like you. The need to fit in is powerful. And evil knows that.
- “This isn’t really harming anyone.” How many sins can you commit that truly don’t have any short term affect on anyone? You really aren’t hurting anyone RIGHT NOW. And it’s true. In the long run, we know that sin causes damage. But that still quiet voice knows that I tend to think more about the right now than the someday. And right now, this sin I’d like to commit is not really hurting anyone. So what’s the harm?
That is a short list, but I’m anxious to hear yours. I would encourage you to give it some thought and list in the comments practical everyday ways that evil has worked in you that are so subtle you may not even notice them every time. And thanks for your contributions.
We were built to be heroes. And it’s about time we started acting like heroes.