Not by any means or stretch of suggestion am I educated to an extent Rabbinic wisdom is an expertise I share with any authority. But I have lived a life of ups and downs, triumphs and failures, rights and wrongs, and Rabbinic wisdom and Jesus’ words speak to life.

Should I find any opportunity to live a life as those sages expressed and Jesus teaches, every relationship and every person I encounter along my path offers a choice to become. Not so simple do I find this to be.

Guilty as we all are, I admit I have harbored ill will toward others and attempted to manipulate means toward an end I envisioned. Ax grinding is more than human pastime. It’s an ancient art perfected and handed down to be repeated. And it is.

Obvious to any observer focused on human interaction and anyone who owns a mirror, all possess within an impulse toward good and an impulse toward evil. All are on the spectrum. The Hebrew terms are yetzer hara (evil inclination) and yetzer hatov (good inclination). The struggle created within us drives us. But let us remember God created man. The struggle, then, has a purpose.

Years passed before I understood. No matter what I did or said, despite any small-mindedness or belittling statements or outright uncivil behavior, slowly I realized all those attempts to subjugate the evil inclination and equal ones to produce a good failed our Lord’s teachings. Hard lessons learned are lessons learned long. My will was insufficient to reach God’s standard of righteousness. And all the while I was failing, I was a professing Christian. But grace is the foundation from which God forms a servant’s heart, a seed for Kingdom work. The power to place the struggle in perspective lies not with a human’s hand.

I realized it is not so important what type of ax grinding you are doing. It is important what is being done to you, what type of person you are becoming after Christ enters your life. If you are still that same old person, sharpening your ax to use the same old way, you do not have Christ at all. You are like a shell — attractive on the outside, but empty within. If you are that sort, you are in a much worse place than the scoundrel who knows what he is and is not. He is much closer to Christ than you are.

What is being done to you, to your soul, is nothing you control. What you are controlling, what you are attempting to do has no impact on your soul. All in question is to what inclination you are submitting, either the yetzer hara or the yetzer hatov. If done by you, failure shall be your companion. If by God, His transforming work will lead you to a righteous life, a life bent toward charity and acts of lovingkindness. If this not be true, seek ye Him.

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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