Evil isn’t a horror flick. But when most of us hear the word evil, we naturally think of Freddy, Jason, Halloween, Hitler, or other grotesquely wicked expressions. What is evil? The Bible isn’t a dictionary, cleanly spelling out tight and concise definitions for our informational consumption. But if we look at the whole of Scripture we get a picture of what evil is truly all about (and it may hit a little closer to home than you think).
I’d like to offer my own working definition for your thoughtful analysis:
Evil is simply satisfying self at the detriment of others.
At it’s worst, evil expresses itself in violence, murder, oppression, injustice, and other vile outflows. It’s easy to see in fascist warlords, death-row inmates, and global genocide. But what about the husband who lies to his wife about working late so he can hang out with his buddies at the local pub? The business woman who quietly threatens her peers in order to manipulate her way into a promotion? Even the spiritual leader who tarnishes the reputation of others to keep from having his own failures exposed? Evil? Jesus said it originates in the heart, not in the act. (Matthew 5)
It starts with simple, seemingly innocent, yet foolish decisions born out of temptation, fear, or insecurity. Then left unchecked, our consciences become seared until inflicting pain or even destroying others becomes easy, even justified, all in the name of pleasing or protecting self. That, my friends, is evil. The scary thing? The potential resides in each and every one of us, not just communist dictators.
The seeds of evil rise from dormancy when I pursue a life that revolves around me. When I refuse to face my junk, my insecurities, my baggage, my self-absorption. When I avoid accountability and vulnerability to preserve power or position, the slippery slope has begun. The remedy? Love.
While evil is willing to hurt or destroy anything and anyone to protect or promote itself, love is just the opposite. Love willfully sacrifices itself for the benefit of others, and no One lived that definition better than Jesus Himself. He’s got the nail scars to prove it. And He can bring that love to life inside each and everyone of us if we’ll just let Him.
So the question for you and me is this: have we started our own self-aborbed journey towards evil? Deal with it now or you may find yourself starring in your own horror flick, with dead bodies all around you to prove it.