The other day, I was at our local library and snow was expected. Two employees were discussing closing early. As the one with the authority walked away, the other remarked: “Remember, use your powers for good!” We’ve heard this phrase: “use your powers for good,” typically in a light-hearted manner and most often in the superhero storyline.
People enjoy seeing underdogs overcome evil. It is satisfying watching a porch pirate or an internet scammer receive his or her due. While we are not meant to deliver retribution, it is hard to watch evil and selfish people rise to power and corrupt cities, states, and nations; we want David to overcome Goliath.
God gave us the capacity to learn and develop our skills, and we are capable of significant accomplishment. If one studied the early actions by the Nazi command in WWII, one could see the role that radar and codes had in triangulating points in England to be bombed. In this way, the German Air Force could run raids regardless of weather or darkness.
The codes the Nazis used were complex and had so many combinations that breaking them proved to be nearly impossible. Mathematicians and others were at work at Bletchley Park, 50 miles northwest of London, attempting to break the codes.
Though fascinating, our focus is on the evil that inspired the work of creating the codes that would be used to destroy British military targets and level cities rich with history, culture, and people of all ages. It was a time that evil was establishing a foothold in Europe and had eyes on conquering the rest of the world. This behavior is clear to us in the book of Isaiah, chapter 5 and verse 20, and we read: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
History is tainted by human perception, but provides some understanding of a moment in time. World domination and the eventual annihilation of a group of humans was not clear when Hitler rose to power in the mid-1930’s. The pursuit of excellence in industry, the arts, and technology is often the screen for more nefarious goals. As Hitler came on the scene, the nation was still recovering its economic footing following WWI. A leader who could galvanize people to action would have been welcome. However, understanding his deeper motivation was difficult in the early days of his role as Chancellor.
Evil can be masked and characterized in ways that people can be drawn to it and embrace it willingly. This was the case with Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin in that era. Of course, in our time, we are witnessing the rise of evil in so many ways, and it is not limited to government.
As Europe came increasingly under Nazi control, it became clear that revitalizing Germany was no longer the primary goal. The military leaders could no longer deceive themselves into thinking that Hitler was nothing more than a strong leader. I suspect many Russian troops found themselves in a similar dilemma with their recent attempts to invade Ukraine. However, in time they too understood that the same treatment would be given to their homeland by the opposition, just as it occurred in WWII. War is evil and killing begets more killing.
In Galatians 6:7-8, we read: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” No manner of rationalization can alter this truth.
We know that God did not create us to be evil. This is the motivation of Satan; given the carnality and free will of mankind, we seek to do at times what we understand to be evil. God however wants us to obey and follow Him. In Ephesians 5:8-9, we see what God wants for us: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)….”
Similar skills and expertise that led to the use of the codes and radar to kill, led to the creation of a replica of the code machine at Bletchley. This work began to turn the tide of the war; however, it did not end the evil and killing. The code breakers were using their skills for good, but war is immoral on all sides. We see this lesson in Romans 3:10: “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one.” And the point is enhanced in verse 23 of Romans 3: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Though we may believe our cause is just, unless it is God’s Will and in obedience to God, it cannot be just. Any action that leads to more killing is wrong and is not pleasing to God. He did not imbue us with skills to use for evil purposes. For example, God chose David to lead His people, but He was not pleased with David’s tendency for violence. It was God’s Will that allowed David to defeat Goliath, but in 1 Chronicles 22:8, we see how God viewed David’s war-like focus that he continued to pursue: “… but the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight.’” Psalm 11:5 provides a blunt warning to all: “The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.”
It may be tempting to see evil receive its due, but this is in God’s hands, and we need to focus on using our talents and abilities to honor Him with all we do. Remember, let’s all use our God-given skills for good and turn from evil whenever we confront it.