1 Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

A recent statement heard was, “It is sad that we cannot see people’s souls instead of their bodies.” What we see is not really the person. The way things appear on the outside are not always indicative of what’s going on inside; that includes the body, the mind and the soul.

This earthling has enjoyed fairly good health during my lifetime. Over the last few years, my right arm and shoulder have been experiencing pain and, like all males, I expected it to go away after a while. It did not. Finally, after several years of experiencing the pain and more seriously, decreased mobility, a decision was made: a real doctor may be my only solution.

The orthopedic doctor quickly determined I had a spur on a shoulder bone. For several years, that spur has been growing and I had not a clue! To realize something was happening in my body that I had no awareness of, or control of, was depressing and alarming.

Like cancers, tumors, spurs, or plaque in the blood veins, these growths that can cripple or kill are very subtle and quiet. Pain or even discomfort may not be felt for years. Suddenly then, excruciating pain erupts and we begin to feel vulnerable and violated.

How dare some tiny little cell begin to divide and multiply in my body without me knowing? That’s outrageous and really makes me very angry until I realize whose fault it is. Mine! Our careless lifestyles of “if it feels good or tastes good, do it” has certainly taken its toll.

At times, we humans have something growing in us that is much more serious and dangerous than a spur. Hatred, spite and anger are cancers of the heart and mind and must not exist in a person of faith in Christ Jesus. But you say, “Someone hurt my son or daughter, someone stole my life savings; how am I not supposed to hate?”

As difficult as that question is to answer, the fact is, when we hate, we are damaging ourselves. This growth in us is self-destructive and that may very well be an understatement. For a fact, hatred is an externally directed emotion that has internal effects.

Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Our emotions may be a factor separating us from God. Those negative feelings growing inside of us are more damaging than we realize.

If we continue to allow these seeds of discord to grow, our future is etched in stone and it is not a pretty picture. These extreme points of division leave us and our world susceptible and vulnerable.

We often hear the phrase, “For the greater good.” Can these seeds of division possibly be for the greater good? Would it not be simpler and safer to promote the development of positive thoughts and attitudes than the negative?

Attitudes of kindness, consideration and a genuine care and love of others would, without any doubt, be for the greater good. Can we determine in our hearts and minds to allow those traits to grow in us instead of those that are harmful and destructive?

Might we pause and ask ourselves, “What positive attributes are growing in me right now?” If we cannot think of anything, we may have a problem.

Ephesians 4: 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ forgave you.” Many of the teachings of the Bible must be done with a conscious effort and a constant awareness.

A question we may ask is: could divisions fueled by hatred and spite be a sign of the end times as prophesied? Matthew 10: 22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” We know Christians are high on the list of the hated in today’s world.

Perhaps the planting of those ideologies that grow in us and divide us are actually God’s plan, but what if they’re not? Does God really want us to exist in a state of turmoil?

I, of course, cannot answer that question but it seems based on prophecy, all these conditions in our world may possibly be a part of His plan. Some of the end time prophecies indicate it could be time for Christ’s return and others seem to indicate otherwise. Assuming the time is not yet come, might it be best if we try to live in harmony and not in contention?

Genesis 4: 6-7 (NLT), “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

The Lord’s admonition was to Cain, “You must subdue your anger and be its master.” All too often, we allow anger and hatred to control us and destroy our lives.

Jesus taught us kindness, love, humility and many other traits that we can determine to make grow inside of us just as easy as those attitudes of hatred and spite (Matthew 5).

Attitudes, beliefs and even opinions can be contagious. Our statements and actions can adversely affect others, especially our children. Those harmful attitudes we inadvertently teach young people are destroying their values and priorities and casting them into a negative state of mind.

Self-control is a term many people do not want to hear. There must be a desire to control one’s self before such a thing is possible. We humans are weak and we refuse to admit it. We are victims of our own lusts and desires, and at times, cannot control ourselves. Once this condition is reached, many simply allow those negative conditions to flourish.

We can plant positive seeds consistent with Biblical values. Colossians 3: 12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

To continue to remember Christ Jesus was crucified and resurrected for the remission of our sin may seem simple, but for us to act like it, isn’t so easy.

We are once again at the beginning of a new year. Traditionally, we make resolutions of which few are kept or even thought of beyond the first week. Perhaps, in our efforts to improve, we might resolve to be aware of those inner thoughts, emotions and attitudes that grow inside of us. Focusing on the good may not be easy, but we all know it is best.

I have been told and have come to believe, if I’m not part of the solution, then I’m part of the problem. We can be our own best friend or our own worst enemy.

Sing this song by George Cooke:

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy Down in my heart (where?) Down in my heart (where?) Down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy Down in my heart (where?) Down in my heart to stay.”

“I’ve got the love of Jesus, Down in my heart (where?) Down in my heart (where?) Down in my heart”

“I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus Down in my heart (where?) Down in my heart to stay.”

Good luck getting this little jingle out of your head today!