We’ve talked about wrestling fear, anger, and mistrust before. Now we’re moving on to some of the most amorphous and unsettling creatures yet. I call them the unholy herd. You start with them, and then get a good thesaurus and deal with all of the synonyms in their family lines because these critters are tricky and intermingled and difficult to untangle.
Jealousy, envy, slander, malice, gossip, backbiting, criticism… They are all so subtle, difficult to detect, flying under the radar. They can disguise themselves as compliments–“What a lovely blouse! Where did you get it? How much did you pay?”–or as prayer requests–“You’ve just got to pray for Sister Louisa. She can’t seem to get her act together today.”–or helpful hints, “It might work better if you were more logical and did A, B, and C.”
On the surface, they all look harmless enough. We’re connecting and interacting, sharing our lives and our thoughts. Yet, we never take a step back to see the real picture. We never stop to consider our true motives.
We don’t consider in our hearts and minds why we might say some of these things. We don’t look deep enough into our thought processes to see the envy, the desire to have what someone else has; to see the jealousy, the idea that we are better than the other person so we deserve their lives and objects; to see our own brokenness, that we hurt so deeply we’d rather embarrass or wound another person than deal with our own pride or arrogance in the need to always be right.
When we miss this, we miss the sword our tongues and actions can become, and this unholy herd just eats up every angry glance, every hidden teardrop, every ounce of wounding. The herd members hop from person to person, inciting greater wounds and greater damage and greater chaos until nothing is left but shattered lives and torn groups and tons of additional fuel for the other monsters we’ve discussed in the past as well as new ones we’ll discuss in the future.
So how do we wrestle this unholy herd that is so difficult to identify and so easy to unleash?
I wish I had a good, solid answer. Too often, I am guilty of taking a verbal blow and then carefully planning out the next countermeasure. Too often, I compare my second-hand SUV to the new Audi I passed on the highway. Too often, I get jealous when a co-worker gets a promotion and raise at work or a fellow Christian gets an awesome new ministry opportunity.
I think it has to start with examining each and every thought. I have to look at what I am thinking, compare it to the Word of God, and then discard whatever would not please my still, small Voice. Every argument or plan that does not match with God’s Word must be made subject to the still, small Voice.
But garbage identification and removal is only half the battle. I have to fill up the empty spaces with something clean and pure. I need to listen to positive, wholesome music. I need to ensure the television I watch doesn’t sully the very areas I’ve cleaned. I need to read materials that focus on the still, small Voice. If I don’t do clean fill, I will have a dark mass seven times as bad as the original area.
Finally, I need a stronger brother or sister who follows the still, small Voice to work with me and challenge me. I won’t always be able to identify which of the unholy herd I’ve fallen under. I won’t always be able to see the sword my words and actions are wielding. I need someone with more experience in right living to whisper me back onto the path the still, small Voice intended for me.