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Tom Scotus

Above All Else, Guard Your Heart

Flickr Image by: JlwelshPeople want the good, but are attracted to evil. People want safe streets, respectful children, friendly neighbors, good health care, faithful spouses, honest politicians, and all that is good. On the other hand, the most popular teenagers in school are not usually those who are religious and moral. Women are very often attracted to "bad boys" and men are usually more "turned on" by naughty girls than by nice girls. Most people think that God-fearing, moral, rule-abiding people are rather boring, but they feel that rule breaking, cocky, immoral people are exciting.

What accounts for this strange paradox of the human heart? The Church teaches that people are created in God’s image so, to that extent, they are good. However, the Church also teaches that people, even after baptism, have a strong attraction to evil. This is a consequence of original sin.

This attraction to evil is shown by what people think about, talk about, read about and watch. Most people act nice, but their private thoughts are often bad. Most people enjoy spreading negative gossip and listening to it. People generally seem more interested in bad news than good news. Movies, TV programs and novels that focus on sin seem to be much more popular than those that focus on goodness. More money is now spent on watching pornography than on sports.

Most people would rather experience grave sin vicariously rather than personally. Very few women will sell their bodies, but many of them enjoy reading about prostitution. Very few men would commit murder, but most men enjoy watching graphic violence.

People seem to think that if they only talk about, think about, read about or watch evil, that they are not guilty of committing evil. However, God’s Word warns us about this: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23). Another translation reads, "… for (the heart) determines the course of your life." Still another reads, "… for from (the heart) flow the springs of life." In other words, what your heart desires most will determine your eternal destiny.

One of the great saints was asked, "What is sin?" She replied, "Sin is the love of evil." You have probably never raped someone, robbed a bank, murdered someone, sold illegal drugs, prostituted yourself or even spit in someone’s face. But, if you love to see or hear about these evils, doesn’t it prove that, at least to some extent, you love evil? We are born with a strong attraction to evil, but that is no excuse for not resisting it. We can, by God’s grace, learn to guard our hearts.

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).