Tag Archive: soul


Let me rephrase the question: would you do something if there were no direct punishment for you? (You can extend this to any illegal/immoral activity, whether it’s stealing, harming, raping, etc.).

What deters many people is the resulting punishment/consequences if one of those acts is done by one person against another. Many times, this is how some churches present their understanding of the Christian life i.e. God will punish you if you do that. So, for many, living a moral life is really about punishment-avoidance.

What this question suggests is whether you are changed fundamentally, especially from a Christian faith perspective? Because if you would do it because you can get away with it, what does that speak to who we really are?

John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” To shift the angle: do I try to stay away from doing bad things (you define what those are) primarily because I’m afraid I’ll get caught or because I believe those acts are fundamentally wrong in and of themselves? After all, in the hypothetical scenario that I wouldn’t be punished for that act, there are still consequences because it impacts the other person negatively. Sometimes, I ask myself that question:

  • Would I steal (embezzle, etc.) just to get what I want?
  • Would I get back at another person through some sort of violence (physical, material, psychological, social) if I felt wronged or because I had contempt?
  • Would I treat women essentially as objects for my own pleasure?

It challenges me to address a deeper issue within me i.e. is God shaping that fundamental desire to seek the betterment of the person around me vs exploiting them for my own selfish desires, which in turn shapes my behaviour? This is beyond punishment-avoidance behaviour modification. This is what the Holy Spirit wants to pursue in my life and everyone else’s.

At times, facing that question forces me to consider where am I at really with God. (To be honest, there are dark spots in my soul I don’t want to acknowledge sometimes.) Yet, it’s God’s desire that the very depths of my soul be transformed so that I might be like Christ. God help me in that process.

Toronto over the last few days has been inundated with the Rob Ford saga. The most recent was a video where he ranted how he was going to kill someone. This blog isn’t a commentary on the recent events themselves. What it did remind me was the darkness of the soul we all have. (The main difference is that Ford’s is open for all the world to see.)

The fact is, all of us are capable of this kind of contempt and malice (whether we’re inebriated or not). Many of us try to have safeguards to at least buffer us from heading towards that darkness. But make no mistake, the potential for evil is within us all. To suggest otherwise is to fool ourselves into thinking “it could never happen to us”.

I’ve come to realize that nothing really surprises me in terms of the depth of depravity. It saddens and at times angers me. But it doesn’t shock me. God, through Scripture, has made it pretty clear that we are all capable of this. So why should I be any different?

The only difference is a dependency on God. Left to my own devices, I could easily slip toward that spectrum (although it may not be as public as Ford’s). I admit there are still dark spots in my soul. There are thoughts that sometimes I catch myself wondering, “Am I really thinking that?!” I need Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit and His community of believers to lovingly and honestly point out my blind spot.

Don’t think it could never happen to you. (And beware of being contemptuous/superior when someone else delves to those depths.)

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