Scripture teaches us that the root cause of evil is pride. The root of all negative behaviour then, such as anything anti-social, illegal, immoral or ungodly must then also be caused by pride.
While it’s easy to identify things such as smoking, unrighteous anger and self-destructive tendencies as sin, it’s not always easy to track back to those hidden causes.
For example, if a boy already knows that what he did was wrong, then speaking the truth to him who has punched someone up, like, “What you did was wrong” has little point. Preaching also does little to actually help someone, who is for example, habitually smoking. “You know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” will generally solicit the response “Yes, I know. Smoking is not good.”
The point here is that speaking truths that are self-evident is less effective than connecting the dots in a meaningful and constructive way that helps people to choose desirable, or positive behaviour. For this there is a desperate need.
I’ve found that it is when we begin to understand ourselves, and more particularly why we do something, that provides the breakthrough and helps us to connect the dots.
Fortunately Jesus set an example for us. True, at times, he did lay into the religious leaders of the day and told them of their greed and control of others for selfish ends, but it was the expert way that He dug deeper and drew out people’s hidden motives that always brought enlightenment. He gave individuals specific self-knowledge and this challenged people in a way that required a conscious decision to change. Their choice with that knowledge always had eternal consequences for their soul.
Jesus never forsook telling the truth in a way that showed people’s real heart. He helped them to see themselves, and to understand themselves. That was the secret to His success in helping people connect with the Father; remarkable all the more in that He always allowed people their own free will choice!
Two secondary causes underpin all negative behaviour – fear and pain, or a mix of the two. The balance between this mix varies depending on individual experiences, and the influence of ones’ environment, but aggression, self-destruction, and habitual or anti-social behaviour can without exception be tracked back to either fear or pain as the underlying cause.
In my observations, the Samoan culture is more dominated by fear, than pain, although everyone is different and what is visible on the surface can sometimes be deceiving.
I do cringe when I watch children in Samoa cower in fear at yet another beating. I cringe also when I see people in power use their power to control others through fear, especially if for their own benefit. I cringe when I observe the spirit of the “Fear of Man” manifest in a multitude of social occasions here, when people do things they really shouldn’t be doing for fear of what others may think. I also cringe deeply when I watch what should be a natural, good and godly fear of the Lord perverted.
If the scriptures are correct that pride is always the cause of sin, and if fear and pain are the cause of negative behaviour, then logically humility must be the antidote to all negative behaviour.
I’ve noticed many times that when an person humbles themselves, then when they grasp the enormous significance of the fact that God loves them, really loves them, then they always seem to lose the urge to punch others, cause trouble, or destroy themselves!
Unless you have an interest in the balance sheets of the hospitals, Pall Mall or Vailima, why not encourage others around you to ‘come down’ a little? The world could become a better place.
Dennis A. Smith (www.dennis.co.nz) is a Samoa-based author, blogger and CEO of the SWAP Foundation, home of Samoa voluntourism.