Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you were uncomfortable with, but didn’t want to be the one to say anything? Recently I found myself in a situation doing something that I knew I shouldn’t be doing. I knew that it was wrong; but thought…it wasn’t THAT bad. I got caught up in having fun and just going with the flow. I thought, “Other people have done this before” or “Other people do worse than this” and “I’m not really hurting anyone…right?”
Wrong. I was hurting me. Sometimes things are hard to say no to. We feel pressured to just do what everyone does, because let’s face it, the world already looks at most Christians as stiff and judgmental. We often look different and make decisions that people do not understand; or we get called prudes or party poopers. And honestly that is hard to take all the time. Sometimes it is way easier to just give in and do what everyone else is doing. Well, it’s easier in that moment at least. It’s not easier later when you are thinking back and wondering why you didn’t do the right thing. It’s not easier when you know that you did something wrong and you have to apologize to God for it. It’s not easier when you find yourself in the same situation again and are really struggling between what you know is right and what is easier in the moment. Paul talks about the struggle between living in the world versus living by the spirit. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17).
This is a problem that people struggled with 2,000 years ago and something that we still struggle with today. There is a Cherokee Legend that explains this exact problem. An old man is telling his grandson about two wolves living inside each person and they are fighting all the time. He explains to the boy that there is a black wolf that is hate, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, superiority, lies, and deceit and there is a white wolf that is love, joy, peace, thankfulness, humility, generosity, truth, kindness, empathy, compassion and faith. The two wolves are fighting inside each person to gain control. The grandson asks which wolf will win. And the answer that his grandfather gives is “The one that you feed.” If we are allowing ourselves to be surrounded by things of the world like TV shows, violent movies, untrustworthy or manipulative people then we feeding the black wolf. We are feeding and submerging ourselves in this world. But if we surround ourselves with loving and kind people, the Bible, and uplifting books and movies then we are feeding the white wolf. The more you feed one or the other the easier it becomes to KEEP feeding it. The more you feed the white wolf, otherwise known as your spirit, the stronger it will become and the more in-tune with it you will be it. It will be easier to turn down things that the black wolf, or the world wants.
Although it is difficult sometimes to make decisions based on what God says, it is something that does set us apart. Sometimes it is uncomfortable to stand out from a crowd, but it is something that God expects us to do. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” God expects us to be the light in the darkness, the example for the world, the image of Jesus. If we are doing things and making decisions “because everyone else is doing it” then we are being none of those things. We are blending in and dulling our light. We are hiding God from the rest of the world because they aren’t getting to see him through our lives.
So what can you do if you find yourself in a situation that you know is wrong? Well, try to be strong enough to do the right thing. Grab the opportunity to tell people why you make the decisions you do. And if you can’t, then get yourself out or the situation when you can, apologize, and ask God to give you the strength and courage for next time. Sometimes we aren’t ready to make a stand, especially if it is with friends or family, but hopefully we are always growing and next time you find yourself in a precarious moral situation you will have fed your white wolf (spirit) and it can help you fight your way out.