Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amhert, NY
There’s an old Native American story in which a grandfather teaches his grandson about good and evil. He said, “Within you there is a battle between two wolves. One wolf is good. He is capable of love and kindness, of truth telling and compassion. He is joy, peace, faith and life. The other wolf is bad. He works evil and hate. He is violent and greedy. He is jealousy, resentment, guilt and anger. Each day these wolves battle for your life. They struggle to control you and your actions.”
The grandson thought about it and then asked, “Well, Grandpa, which wolf wins?”
The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”
In scripture Jesus tells a different story about good and evil. He says there was a farmer who sowed good seed in his field. However, in the dark of night an enemy crept in and sowed weeds amongst the good crop. When the workers saw what had happened they asked the farmer if they should get rid of the weeds. But he replied, “No, for in gathering the weeds you might also uproot the wheat. Let them grow and we will divide them at the harvest.”
Traditionally, this story has been interpreted to mean that there are good people and bad people in this world and that God lets bad people hang around because of the good. But I don’t think it’s really all that simple. Primarily, because I don’t believe there are good and bad people. I think most of us are pretty much both.
We are capable of radical love. We can be selfless to the point that we would lay down our lives for our friends. However, we simultaneously cast unfair judgment, covet what is not ours, and hoard the blessings God has given us. On the flip side, there are people who seemingly by their nature are bad. And yet, they are also capable of deep love, affection, charity and hospitality.
So what do we do with all that? What do we do with the knowledge that we are wheat and weeds, good and bad?
Well, to start, I think we should remember the wolves. Remember that this is not a black and white, good vs. evil world. Rather, within each of us is the capacity to be both. And so, it’s important to feed the good and starve the bad. It’s also important to remember that we are sinful and the capability to do evil is always a reality, but making mistakes is not a “game over”. Rather, God – the planter and harvester – will continue to let us be in order that the good might take root and grow. There is always another day and another opportunity to let good win.
So, feed the good in you today. Love. Give. Serve. Thank. Pray.
Help the right wolf win. Let the good crop grow.
In the Way,
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