Just to preface, I’ve had this topic on my heart for a year now. I can’t seem to shake it, even after writing in vain about it 7-8 times.
So here is my *crossed-fingers* final attempt. I’ve divvied it up into three segments for easier reading. I hope you enjoy it & learn something like I did :)
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One day, I was laughing with my coworkers about the mysterious “Human Condition”. We thought it hilarious that we could apply the phrase to anything:
“Getting on the subway is The Human Condition. Dealing with incompetent jerks on the road is The Human Condition. Having to slave all day to earn a paycheck is The Human Condition. Eating crappy tacos is The Human Condition.”
It was very funny and thought-provoking. We hear so often about this part of our lives, yet none of us can define it.
Thankfully… God has given us a peek into our condition to help us understand!
We learn from His Word that we face 3 common enemies in life: Our rebellious nature (the “flesh”), Satan, and the world. We could say, then, that The Human Condition is battling all three in our quest to know & emulate God.
But two of these threats are external (Satan & the world) – two things largely beyond our control.
Let’s focus on the one we do have authority over, with God’s help: The inward battle with our flesh.
What does God say about our flesh nature, or our “condition”?
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.
Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch,
so is he who gets riches but not by justice;
in the midst of his days they will leave him,
and at his end he will be a fool.
A glorious throne set on high from the beginning
is the place of our sanctuary.
O Lord, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake You shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from You shall be written in the earth,
for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.”
Our hearts are wicked! I’ve found that many people spend their entire lives running from this truth.
Why don’t we like to believe this? Why do so many people explain away ‘bad behavior’ with paltry excuses?
Because we can’t fix our sinful hearts ourselves… and by accepting this, we’d have to give up doing whatever we want and give up proving our “goodness”, which many find unthinkable.
So instead, when we’re faced with mass shooting sprees, child molestation, & corporate fraud, we are quick to blame things that have no control over crime (guns, knives, medications, our mental state, moms & dads, lack of education) – instead of the perpetrators.
But bad childhoods don’t hurt, rob, and kill people - PEOPLE DO.
We can’t blame “politicians”, “corporations”, “gang members”, “black people”, “feminists” or “creepy old men”. We, and our fellow humanity as a whole, are to blame.
Can we accept the fact that we’ve done wrong? Maybe not to the level of some people, but no honest person can say they’ve always chosen good over bad. Even as adults, we must discipline ourselves to do the right thing (& it doesn’t always happen). It doesn’t come – dare I say it – naturally! It goes against the grain of our natural state, the condition we’re all in.
We gain great FREEDOM and wisdom when we admit this about ourselves & about each other, and when we quit running from reality.
Many educational programs require ethics courses. My question is, can you force people’s moral behavior? These classes have their place, no doubt, but *at best* they encourage people to do right by threatening consequences for unethical behavior (or promising benefits when we abstain from it).
Ethics classes don’t make people more ethical, any more than bribing kids with cookies keeps them from throwing future tantrums. They simply entice people to play nice for a reward/to prevent punishment. A class can’t change people’s desires – or the condition of their hearts.
As they say, You don’t have to teach kids to be bad. You have to teach them to be GOOD.
So why are we surprised when kids grow up to be adults who continue being bad? And why are we surprised when we find OURSELVES behaving badly?
Many people talk about seeing the “good” in everyone, which was my default mode growing up. I loved my rose-colored glasses because it made my world a much happier place. “You see what you wanna see,” I’d think about pessimists.
Then life comes along & clobbers you in the face. The people you trust backstab you. You go into business with a person of ill repute, ignore the raging red flags, and are surprised when you’re ripped off.
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on & suffers the consequences.” ~Prov. 27
“The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.” ~Prov. 22
There are inconvenient truths I don’t wanna face about people and MYSELF every day. I can turn a blind eye, but that would make me a fool and an easy target. There are people in the world who do not have our best interests at heart. Sometimes we don’t have their best interests at heart either. If we refuse to believe this, we will walk a rocky road of consequences.
There’s no need to be skeptical of everyone, but to continue skipping through the meadows with people bent on doing evil is to invite destruction into our lives.
We need to be cautious when we see warning flags about other people, and we must acknowledge that we aren’t above any temptation or sin either so that we can be on guard against falling into their behavior ourselves.
I’d like to leave us with two action items:
- Accept that we share a common enemy: Ourselves. If you need help overcoming something, seek God’s help and other people’s assistance to overcome it – don’t try to do it on your own! There’s a reason you haven’t overcome it alone: You need someone stronger than yourself.
- Accept that some people choose to NOT restrain themselves and do evil things! Heed any “red flags” you see in other people’s lives, and guard yourself accordingly.
I’ll post Part Two soon.