The Devil on my Shoulder

angeldevilAn Old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.”

One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility kindness, empathy and truth.

The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

I remembered as a kid the cartoon that depicted the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The devil is whispering in one ear and the angel in the other. The devil is suggesting sin and the angel suggesting goodness.

The devil represented temptation and the angel our moral conscience.

Do you sometimes feel this way?

I know that I do. We feel torn between what is righteous and what is expedient and feels good. And, often the devil wins! Even though we know what we are doing is wrong or could have consequences, we do it anyway.

That is the definition of sin! Every time we listen to the devil instead of the angel, we commit sin. Some sins are small, venial sins but others are more serious.

Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  Romans 8:12-13

Often, we feel bad about our choices after the fact. We realize that we were weak, lacking the strength to choose what is morally correct.

Let’s face it, we are all sinners. We all make bad choices from time to time and we all fall short of perfect. We have a sin batting average, and if we are honest, it could be better.

That’s why I like the old Cherokee saying. The grandfather understands that there is a constant fight in each of us between good and evil. And the one that wins is the one we feed. How do we feed this good wolf, make better choices, sin less, and improve our batting average.

Here are a few things that will help:

  1. Prayer. When tempted, pause and pray. It could be a simple prayer as in “God help me” but it might be just enough to help us make a clear decision.
  2. Scripture. We find story after story in the bible of people who have made grave mistakes, have repented and changes their lives. They went from bad decisions to good ones. They improve their averages.
  3. Better friends. As my dad often said, “You become the type of person you hang out with.” If we choose friends that avoid sin, it will eventually help us to avoid sin, as well.
  4. Avoid the people and places that lead us to sin. Sometimes there is one person, one place, one web site, one hangout that is the constant. Avoiding that person, place, or circumstance makes it easier for us to stay on the right path. In jail ministry, I often talk to people who have been arrested on drug charges, who decide to live a clean life, only to return to the same friends, same bar or house, with the mistaken ideas that they can say “no.” It may take a while, but they will eventually succumb to the peer pressure and do drugs again. The way to stay clean is to find new friends, new hangouts, and a healthy lifestyle.
  5. Frequent reception of the Sacraments. For me, the more often I go to mass and receive the Blessed Sacrament, the better I am a resisting sin. I can’t explain why, but it just works!

This week, let’s make a conscious effort to feed the good wolf, to improve our sin batting average, and to try to live a more righteous, virtuous, and moral life. Let’s move away from darkness toward the light, away from the devil and closer to God.

If you enjoyed this story, you can have  Tony’s latest story delivered to your email every Monday morning, and not miss a single one.  Simply subscribe by clicking here. You will be sent an e-mail to verify your subscription.  Just click on the link and you’re all set.

Thank you for sharing my stories with your family and friends.  Below are links to share on your social media sites.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Tony Agnesi