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“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19-21).
There’s an old fable about a Cherokee Indian elder who was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside you. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight going on inside of you is inside every other person, too.”
The children thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee elder replied simply, “The one you feed.”
A Rabbi expressed it this way: “The two wolves symbolize the Evil Inclination (Yetzer Hora) and the Good Inclination (Yetzer Hatov). The former thrives on bodily appetites, while the latter thrives on Torah, prayer, and good deeds. Eventually, one swallows the other.”
Paul talked about in his letter to the Galatians, telling them to live by the Spirit, and not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. He said the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.
In case the Galatians didn’t know how to identify these traits, Paul spelled them out: sexual immorality, impurity debauchery, idolatry witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. And then he went on to enumerate the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Reading this causes me to take inventory of my inner self. Clearly, I can see the two wolves within me. Clearly they are in competition. Clearly, on my own I have not the ability to triumph good over evil from within. But the wonderful part of the story is that through the Spirit of Christ, I can overcome all things and I can be the kind of person God uniquely created me to be. I can be all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Heavenly Father, Help me to take an honest inner inventory today. I want to be the person You created me to be. I want to model all that You are to me. Fill me with Your Spirit and help me to feast on the things that will bring joy to Your heart and mine. I ask this in the name of Jesus’ amen.
Question: Which wolf have you been feeding lately?
About this Author John Grant
Daily audio podcast: A second daily devotional, Begin! Just Begin!, today on the Men’s Devotional Blog