Many of us are used to hearing sermons on ‘spiritual sins’ focussed on us from the pulpit, but not so much on evils that lurk within the social fabric of society. Of course, the need for the message of ethical values are great in modern cultures and must be preached in and out of season and with the aim of directing us to live closer to Christ. Preachers not preaching about social ills are deserting the message of human worth and value, and unresponsiveness and disregard often do much more harm than absolute odium, a deletion of care for all. Too often, we neglect to permit ourselves to be esteemed by our families and friends our support group, the people who truly love and who add meaning, and who actually matters in our lives. More often than not, we are blinded by our own self-interest, pursuing others who are rich and wealthy, they look up to, and want to love us, the kind of people that are more interested in their bank balances, that do not even care or add value to our lives. This is actually a worthless endeavor, a fruitless chase, a waste of time pursuing a friendship with the rich, those who do not have our interest at heart. While those who truly love us, who daily demonstrate that love by being there for us, recognizing our humanity, in good times and in bad. They have to stand by and watch us making a fool of ourselves, literally pleading with the rich to be our friends! The time will come and now is when we stop pursuing those with no ethical or social values, who do not care about our human value or worth and care for those who daily demonstrate their love. It is time for us to love our fellow man, while allowing ourselves to be loved despite the mounting socials ills.
Taken from a sermon, ‘The Seven Social Sins’ preached in London, on March 20, 1925, F. L. Donaldson highlighted the following:
- Wealth without work.
- Pleasure without conscience.
- Knowledge without character.
- Commerce without morality.
- Science without humanity.
- Worship without sacrifice.
- Politics without principle.
Humankind is so caught up in his own self-importance, that he forgot to care for others, human life now below that of an animal. He endeavors daily to save the planet, spending millions to save endangered species, but humanity we will not care for. Ethnic cleansing, famine, and wars destroying sections of the world while we spend billions developing nuclear weapons, enough already in existence than can destroy the world several times over. Scientist declared that a child is not a human until it’s born, so he gave women godlike powers to terminate a pregnancy whenever she wants, so 4 ¼ million babies are aborted yearly in the name of progress. In the name of empowering women, if the child will stop her education and career, she has the right to end its life! When and in whose book, does a career becomes more important than human life? Get rich quick, get-going while the going is good, forget about social ills. Is this not a world going backward?
We find in Stoic philosophy, “What a despicable thing a human being is if he does not rise above human affairs! All the time that we are struggling with our passions, what is so wonderful about our achievement, even if we prevail? We are outdoing monsters: why should we be conceited because we are not as bad as the worst people? I cannot see why anyone who is more robust than the others in a hospital should be pleased with himself: strength is quite different from good health. Have you broken free from moral vices? Your face does not have a feigned expression, your speech is not designed to please somebody else, nor are your feelings concealed, nor do you harbor greed, which denies itself what it has taken from others, nor luxury, which squanders money shamefully only to recoup it even more shamefully, nor ambition, which will bring you honors only by dishonorable means? You have not yet achieved anything: you have broken free from many things, but not yet from yourself. The virtue to which we aspire is marvelous not because freedom from evil is in itself wonderful, but because it releases the mind, prepares it for knowledge of the celestial, and makes it worthy to enter into a partnership with god”. Socrates and the Stoics 7h – Seneca, Naturales Quaestiones Book I, praefatio 1-7
The Apostle Paul, met some of these Greek philosophers, “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean”. (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas) (Acts 17: 18-21).
Epicurean philosophers originally taught that the supreme good is happiness, but not mere momentary pleasure or temporary gratification. The Epicureans, named after their founder Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), they believed the chief end of living was a pleasure. They believed in numerous gods who had no influence over the affairs of man and did not believe in the immortality of the soul. However, by the time of Paul, this philosophy disintegrated into a more sensual system of thought. The Stoic philosophers, on the other hand, taught that people should live in harmony with nature, recognize their own self-sufficiency and independence, and suppress their desires. The Stoics, founded by Zeno (c. 300 B.C.), believed that God was the world’s soul which indwelt all things, God was in all men, all men were brothers. That living in harmony with nature brought happiness. Many Stoics were men of high moral principle, and that human affairs were governed by fate. At its best, Stoicism had some admirable qualities, but like Epicureanism, by the time of Paul it to had deteriorated into a system of pride.
Though the world often confuses vanity and pride, they definitely are not the same things, as one can have pride without being conceited. One can have pride, which is a healthy opinion of others and us. However, there is a kind of pride that can be elevated to a dangerous level it becomes vain, narcissistic when we become self-absorbed, and think negatively of others and even what we want others to think of us. John gave this advice about what is in the world, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever” (1John 2: 15-17).
Each of us when we were young, we have a personal ambition of sorts, some want to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, engineers or do creative things, and among a number of disciplines to pursue. Yet we all have to fight holding on to our dreams, fight for the opportunities that are out there, hold on to that pride, that ambition that burns within you, never let go. Not many have the ambition to sit back and enjoy life in paradise without effort, to be pleased with his/her-self, without actually achieving something. However, for many, the focus is not on self but on others, for to them a successful life is wrapped up in serving others in their communities. For many recognizing human values, pursuing and fighting for social equality, being there for someone in need, helping to lift or carry a heavy load is what life is all about. Let us examine ourselves with the ‘seven social sins’ and see where we fall. How many of us in society today, that can stand and say, I am as sinful as the most errant among us when it comes to being my brothers keeper, but with God’s help I can be as good as the best among us in combating social ills?