“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
About 25 miles from where I live, early one morning about a year ago, as a 43 year old man slept alone in a camper, a group of 6 teenagers entered and killed him. According to the news article, their motive was burglary. They were going after what they thought would be a large amount of marijuana. Today they are all facing murder charges.
The mugshot of one of the teens is etched in my mind, not because he looked like a hardened criminal, but because he looked like a scared kid and clearly had been crying. I can’t help but wonder how many times his parents had pleaded with him, or tried to steer him in the right direction. I don’t know if he had even been in trouble before, or if anyone saw this coming. I don’t know how long ago he took the first step down the path that ended in a jail cell facing life in prison for such a horrible crime. What I know is, there is no undoing the terrible choice he made that night, regardless of how sorry he is or how many tears he sheds. And although his parents may be willing to give their lives for him, they can’t save him now. Because no amount of sorrow or regret can bring back the life of the 43 year old man who died at their hands. When a person makes a habit of bad choices, it’s only a matter of time before their choices are irreversible.
I’ve read Proverbs 1 several times and admittedly, while I believe it, I’ve felt that it wasn’t really something I needed to hear. I can’t imagine right now being convinced to go along with something like this. But the place that this warning describes can be arrived at through a fast, direct path, or a slow, gradual path, with the result being the same.
“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.
If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot” –
my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths;
for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood.
How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it!
These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!
Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.” – Proverbs 1:10-19
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…”
I believe what Solzhenitsyn said – the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And if we ignore all the warnings, and feed the thoughts and behaviors that lead to destruction, it will only be a matter of time until we self-destruct.