Fear, Folly, and the Lesser Evil

Fear, Folly, and the Lesser Evil

[pullquote]Christian, you are not given the option to choose a lesser evil.[/pullquote] Right here at the beginning of the article, I want to be clear about two things: first, I’m talking about every sphere of life; from your choice of friends and spouse to, yes, who you check the box for in the election booth next week. And second: Christian, you are not given the option to choose a lesser evil. Even for the sake of pragmatism or expediency, God expects you to live in light of His work in the world. The option of the “lesser evil” is not open to us, because that’s not where our hope is. It’s not in simply avoiding that which we fear, and if you choose a lesser evil, you are thumbing your nose at God.

Fear and the Lesser Evil

The argument is usually framed like this: “we have to choose X, even though it is reprehensible. If we don’t, Y will happen, and that would be worse!”

But this argument should not hold water for the Christian: our fear of God should override all fear of any Earthly thing, even the so-called “greater evil.” This fear is of a God who tells us not to be overcome by ANY evil, greater or lesser.

Jesus Himself points this out to His disciples in Matthew 10:28, when they faltered in doing the things Jesus commanded them to do. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” he told them. “Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

And therein we find a key as to why God is to be feared more than anything else: He is the Creator, and He has a sovereign control and potection, a perfect understanding of the world, and a loving hand to work it for the good of those who love God.

We see an example of this in Hebrews, when the author tells us that “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-25, ESV)

Renowned preacher Charles Spurgeon said this about Moses’ choice:

Today if a young man proposed to sacrifice his position for Christ’s sake, father, and mother, and friends would all say: “Do not think of such a thing. Be prudent. Do not throw away your chance.” […] No doubt many advised Moses to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but he steadily refused. He deliberately divested himself of his rank that he might be numbered with the down-trodden people of God.

Not only was this “non-prudent” option a righteous and faithful choice, but he was immortalized through it in the “hall of faith.” That faith is the only thing which can keep us from fear: faith in a God who can overcome all fears.

And so by faith, we must obey the leading of the Spirit, even if it is not prudent or convenient. Even if we fear the alternative. And even if we are sure that the future will be worse as a result.

The Arrogance of the Lesser Evil

In order to decide upon a “lesser” evil, we must first decide which is better than the other in the long run. So, then, we must cast our minds into the future; “what will happen,” we think, constructing elaborate scenarios in our minds, before deciding which decision presents the lesser threat to our well-being.

But this practice ignores the fact that we know who holds the future—and it isn’t us.

It’s an arrogant thing, telling God that we know better what the future holds than He does. “I can’t choose that thing, God,” we tell him. “It would not be the better option.”

The funny thing about that one is that God not only knows the future, He made it. He lives there. And spoiler alert: He wins.

The Defeat of the Lesser Evil

Oftentimes, the idea of the “lesser evil” (known as “consequentialism”) comes from a place of weariness. “There will never be a better choice,” it says. “I better take this lesser evil while I can get it.”

It wrongly suggests that we’re on the ropes, that the world is falling apart, and that the sky is falling. But nothing could be further from the truth; we’re not losing. We’re not even winning. We’ve already won.

Jesus secured that victory when He rose from the dead, and since He did so, we don’t have to worry about the future or give in to fear. God has already chosen the candidate who will win, and that person will be elected.

Pointless Endeavour?

So does that mean we don’t vote, or choose our friends, or carefully consider suitors? Not at all. But it does show that we, as Christians, have other considerations we have to make. We have to follow the leading of the Spirit, because the gift of choice comes from God as a gift to turn us to Him.

Choice is not about fear; it is about faith.
Choice is not about knowing the future; it is about humility.
Choice is not about defeat; it is about the victory Christ secured.

We’re not given the option of voting for the lesser evil. As Spurgeon said, “Of two evils, choose neither.”

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