I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth. -Genesis 8:21
Dear members and friends,
One word in the Bible that has always bothered me is “evil.” The first time this word appears is in Genesis 2:9 & 17. In Genesis 2:17, it is God who mentions the tree of knowledge of good and evil to Adam. In other words, it was God who told Adam the word “evil” when Adam had no idea what it even meant. These days, most of us are over-informed about what it means to be evil and/or what evil is through literature, theology, sermons, and even Hollywood-produced movies and dramas. I often hear the word/concept deeply associated with moral and ethical judgement. In a way, many people seem to classify what is immoral and unethical as evil.
The Hebrew word that is translated as “evil” in Genesis (Ra’) has a complex meaning. Ra’ means bad in terms of disagreeable, malignant, or unpleasant, or evil in terms of misery, injury, calamity, distress, or adversity. Ra’ could also mean sad or unhappy. In a way, everything that causes a person any unpleasant feeling could be identified as Ra’. However, the word originates from the Hebrew word Ra’a’, meaning “to be displeasing or sad; injurious or wicked,” or “to be broken.” Most translations of the Bible use the word “evil” for Ra’a’, but what if the word “injured” or “broken” was used instead? If we were to make this substitution in Genesis 8:21, it would read quite different: “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is broken from youth.”
The cause of our hardship in living life is this inner brokenness in our hearts. According to Jesus, the cure for this brokenness is to love others for their own sake. In other words, our focus should be the positivity gained through loving and caring for others, even if this inner heartbreak is constantly dragging us toward negativity. And, the truth is that one day, we may find ourselves receiving the same love and care we once gave and reaping the positivity we sowed.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee