Saturday, July 3, 2010

Charity Thinketh No Evil: A Totally New Thought for Me

I have to admit that it was difficult at first to wrap my mind around a New Year's Resolution lasting an entire month that consists of "thinking less evil". Generally, as each new month approaches I contemplate the wording of each upcoming resolution to gather my initial impressions prior to checking the definitions of the relevant terms and digging into the meat of the resolution. My initial reaction was, "Really - it's not like I think evil all the time" - followed by, "at least not in any way that relates directly to charity" - which meant that I got to the point of looking at definitions without much in the way of a foundation.

I realized by the time I was ready to write this post that my initial reactions and thoughts were wrong - and I am grateful for the chance to consider something that, in all honesty, I had never considered previously in quite the same way as I have this week.

So, without any profound or new insight, I turned to the dictionary for my first resolution post this month.

The noun "evil" (since that is how it is used in I Corinthians 13:4-7) is defined as each of the following:

1) the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin;

2) the wicked or immoral part of someone or something;

3) harm; mischief; misfortune;

4) anything
causing injury or harm;

5) a
harmful aspect, effect or consequence.

Grouped together, this initially yields two apparently distinct categories of thought to which Paul might have been referring when he said that "charity thinketh no evil":

1) "Wicked" and "immoral" thoughts;

2) Thoughts that harm or wish harm on others.

However, upon considering the context of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in its entirety, which is focused on charity (and particularly the aspect of charity about which I wrote last month - not being easily provoked), it seemed clear to me that these two categories really are one - and the "new" thought that hit me is that perhaps "wicked" and "immoral" really don't exist in isolation - that they are directly and intimately tied to how we think about and act toward others (and, perhaps also, ourselves). Perhaps, just as sound might not exist without the ability to hear, wickedness and immorality might not exist without the ability to harm.

In other words, perhaps "thinketh no evil" might be translated more clearly as "thinketh nothing that would harm others if actually done to them" - with the next thought being the need to consider carefully what constitutes "harm" to us as humans and spirit children of God.

That thought process has brought numerous thoughts to my mind, but, frankly, I'm not ready yet to process them into a coherent post. Therefore, for this week, I simply am going to consider "harm" more carefully - and look for instances where I "think evil" in this way. I know I do so, even if not deeply and steadily, so I know there will be plenty to consider and post next week and throughout this month.


Michelle said...

Great thoughts, Ray.

Michaela Stephens said...

In other words, perhaps "thinketh no evil" might be translated more clearly as "thinketh nothing that would harm others if actually done to them"

This was very helpful. Thanks.

Our Sunday school lesson today focused a lot on Saul's jealousy of David. Saul's suspicious, paranoid, and resentful attitudes, words, and deeds offer an example of "thinking evil".

Jonathan's conduct, on the other hand, exhibited "thinking no evil."