Good or Evil????

“. . . difference between good and evil . . .”
“So give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?” (I Kings 3:9)

Good or evil????????

I found this guy a couple of weeks ago as we were walking through the church and decided he would be fun to photograph up close and personal (since he was dead).  Some of you immediately might be repulsed or even frightened by the picture.  Others, like me, might be curious.  Some might consider his live cousin to be evil and game for squishing under your shoe.  Others might consider all the other bugs his cousin consumes and be grateful for his efforts.  Is he good, or is he evil?

I can understand why King Solomon prayed that God would give him the wisdom to know the difference between good and evil.  It’s an important component in the decision-making process for all of us.  We think that if we can determine if someone is good or evil, then we can base the rest of our decisions regarding that person on that premise.  Or can we…

Yesterday I happened to see at least three news stories that described extremely tragic events in the lives of some teens and adults.  All of the stories had one thing in common — alcohol.  In two of the stories it would be safe to say that the folks guilty of making really bad and hurtful decisions would have been considered as “good” by those who knew them.  In other words, without the alcohol on board they could have been trusted to make healthy decisions.  In the third situation prior offenses the person guilty of killing another had committed might have kept him from being labeled as “good” or “trustworthy,” but even he could not believe that he had been capable of killing another – because he had been drinking.

I listen to teens (and adults) as they plan their activities and relationships based upon their assessment of the trustworthiness (the “good or evil”) of others.  Unfortunately, they fail to take into account that once a person begins to drink alcohol, the brain is not the same.  The decision-making process is skewed, and behavior can be radically changed.  With alcohol on board “good” people can say and do some of the most awful things because of the way their brains are impaired by the alcohol.  I’ve often asked the question, “When is it easier to get the car keys from someone — before or after they’ve started drinking?”  Of course, the answer is “before” because the more they drink the more their impaired brain’s distorted thinking tells them they’re perfectly fine to drive.  The next morning after a night of drinking can be tragic for some when they find they’ve done something they promised their self and others they would never do.  The warning they were counting on their brain to remind them of never came because the alcohol had tampered with the brain’s “warning system.”

It is important for us to assess safety, trustworthiness, and promise in our relationships with others as well as our own selves.  It’s also important for us to acknowledge that when we or the other impairs our brain with alcohol and other substances, we can no longer trust our ability to make accurate assessments.  We lose the ability to, “know the difference between good and evil,” when our brains or the brains of those we say we trust have been impaired.  Maybe Lent is a good time to confront our love affair with alcohol.

I pray that God will help me treat folks justly and, “know the difference between good and evil.”  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

PS:  If anyone has read my new book, Wednesday Wonderings and write a review for, it would be greatly appreciated. 
Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on March 20, 2013.

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