Depart from evil, and do good. Psalm 34:15
Evil – What can we do about all these terrible things in the world? We live in the age of the worst genocides in history. We are exposed daily to man’s inhumanity. We see corruption all around us. We can hardly go through a single day without being touched by evil. Is there any answer? Is there any hope?
The world recognizes the problem of evil, but its solution is woefully inadequate. Why? Because the world’s solution is the attempt to lift moral consciousness, to make us better by appealing to our inner goodness. The world’s solution to evil is education in good thinking. It claims that all we really need is more training, more enlightenment, more sensitivity. This is not the biblical solution.
“Evil is not man’s ultimate problem. Man’s ultimate problem is his relation to God. . . . The Biblical answer to evil is not the good but the holy. It is not an attempt to raise man to a higher level of existence, where man is not alone when confronted with evil. Living in “the light of the face of God” bestows upon man a power of love that enables him to overcome the power of evil.”
As long as we act on the basis that evil is reduced through human solutions, we will make no substantial difference. Evil confronts holiness, not goodness. To combat evil we must do righteousness. Why? Because doing righteousness is redemptive. Every righteous act implants God’s character in the world. Every righteous act is the fulfillment of His will on earth. Every righteous act, not just the big deal charity choices. God invades this evil world in the smallest moments of righteousness.
Wait! Doesn’t this psalm tell us to do good? It most certainly does. But the difference is who decides what is good. Doing good is not doing what I think is good. Doing good is doing what God says is good. Only the goodness that God gives really counts. My versions of doing good mean nothing in the battle against evil because my versions are not aligned with His holiness, no matter how altruistic they might seem to be. What counts in the fight against evil is only what God counts.
So, what does that mean? How do I do righteousness? You don’t have to guess. God actually tells us how to do righteousness in the smallest details. It’s simple. Just do a mitzvah. What? Mitzvah is essentially an act of kindness. Does that mean that all acts of kindness are evil-combating righteousness. Yes, they are, but God has given us a special insight into His mitzvot (plural). He actually lists them in the Torah. Every time you and I follow one of His commandments, we perform a mitzvah and we bring His character to bear on the world. Every time! Not just when we offer the hungry food or the thirsty drink. Combating evil occurs when we honor the Sabbath, loan to the poor, guard our tongues or act as stewards of another’s property. In fact, God has given us 613 specific ways to bring holiness into this world.
Here’s the bottom line. It’s very easy to think that our definitions of human kindness are the critical weapons in fighting evil. So, we think that diet has nothing to do with combating evil. But the evil is not the opposite of good. God doesn’t see it that way. The opposite of evil is holiness and holiness is acting according to God’s character and instructions. So, if I decide not to eat clams, I bring holiness into the world. I might not understand how that happens, but I know what God asks and when I do it, He is glorified and evil is defeated. I participate in God’s victory over evil. God is the victor, not me. I’m just following His lead.
Topical Index: mitzvah, evil, good, holy, Psalm 34:15, ra