A sample of News Headlines in the US from December 16th, 2011.
- A gunman with a rifle opened fire at a Southern California Edison office in Irwindale on Friday, killing two employees and wounding two others before taking his own life.
- A Penn State assistant football coach testified Friday that in 2002 he saw Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy and that he reported it, in graphic detail, to Coach Joe Paterno and two senior Penn State University officials.
- 5 shot dead in small town west ofKankakee, including boy, girl and baby
- The state medical examiner has ruled that the death of aFloridaA&MUniversitydrum major last month was a homicide after concluding that the student was severely beaten in a hazing incident and died within an hour.
In every one of these situations someone has made a choice to pursue a path of evil, but it did not start with this choice. The long slide to unrestrained evil starts with one poor choice, generally insignificant and unnoticed by others.
Evil unrestrained leads to excessive perversions.
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1:28-31)
A familiar statement made in the 19th century by British Lord Acton stands true:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
We see this is many nations where the rights of the people have been severely limited or extinguished, and where there is no freedom of speech.
- Excess in any material form generally has no good outcomePower can be used for good
But – abuse of power leads to horrible consequences
- Pursuit of financial gain can lead to strong commerce and businesses, jobs, security, etc.
But – unrestrained greed will lead to abuse of people, friends, coworkers, etc., excessive desires, cheating, lying
- Sexual intimacy was created by God for good, to be shared in the marriage bonds, and for procreation.
But – abuse or excess of this desire, in any context (including marriage), leads to sexual addiction, excessive desire for personal physical gratification; and, unrestrained, it leads to many forms of sexual perversion.
- Eating is a necessity of life and can be pleasurable.
But – unrestrained desire for food leads to many forms of physical ailments, as well as obesity and its consequences.
God’s way is one of selfless pursuit, loving others as yourself, placing their good ahead of yours.
“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”
God stands ready to provide the wisdom to make wise choices.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6
There is a sense of entitlement, found in affluent societies, and it battles against any form of selflessness.
But the courage to make wise choices, against our deepest inner cravings, against the pressure of our peers or the social setting we operate in – that requires strength of our own will. That emanates from within our soul – the character that has been planted there. And it is upon that foundation that strength of character builds.
While many in the world (might I say most) scoff, laugh or sneer at leaders who make the hard but necessary choices to do the right thing, deep within there is an admiration of men and women who are capable of doing just that; who can plow through the seas of uncertainty and stay the course.
God is the “Ultimate North Star.” He will guide us to true north. But that path is never easy..