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The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart


 December 8, 2011 

" Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD." Lamentation 3:4


The central message of this blog is not about Muammar Gaddafi or about any political leader anywhere. I am using Gaddafi's story to highlight the point I am trying to make.

The end of 2010 and the year 2011 have been the year of "Arab spring".  Rulers of countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and few others have been shaken to the core, all due to the birth of social media that connected the world as if it is one country. It made information available at the click of a keyboard, gave the youth new insights about the evil grip of dictatorship and what a democratic society can look like. Which led to uprisings and the tipping of the balance of power.

Imagine you have been given the responsibility of assuming Gaddafi's position for forty two years. What kind of a heart would you have demonstrated towards the people you were entrusted to lead? 

Muammar Gaddafi ruled the people of Libya for forty two years with an Iron fist. He called himself "The king of kings".  While he held the grip of power tightly for all those years, so much have happened in the world.  Nine US presidents exchanged power peacefully and harmoniously.  I can testify that I was born after he came to power and if I were a Libyan living in the country, he would have been the only leader I would have known all my life.  

He hid Millions of Dollars in Swiss, US and other banks all over the world while millions in the country lived in the worst destitute possible.  His five sons each controlled different sectors of the country,  grew up in abundance of "milk and honey" while millions go to bed hungry. Opponents of Gaddafi; he referred them as rats and cockroaches,  were silenced and brutally murdered in thousand.      

The families' numerous luxurious villas, hard to count number of fancy sport cars, chartering flights for big name US celebrities such as buoyancy, Mayra Carry and  paying them millions of dollars per show, access to any amount of money they desire at any given time, power to get anything they want at any time. The list goes on 

Then in a year no one expected, revolution broke out in the country. Many died, infrastructures destroyed.  Then, Gaddaffi's  forty two years of rule was over. On his way to escape from the country, he was chased by an ordinary group of youth, his escape from the car end him up in sewerage tunnel,  he was captured, humiliated and killed.  They displayed his body in  a butcher shop, on an old mattress on the floor, and thousands of Libyans passed by to view his body as they held their nose to avoid the bad odor from his corps.   He lived like nobody and his ending became line nobody as well.  What a fate! What a sad ending! What a tragic legacy!   The entire world reacted about his ending. A shout of joy and satisfaction echoed from cost to cost in Libya and all over the world. Many said, "Justice has been served" He got what he deserved.   
Let me ask you the same question I asked you at the beginning. Imagine you have been given the responsibility of assuming Gaddafi's position for forty two years.   What kind of a heart would you have demonstrated towards the people you were entrusted to lead?     

To know whether you and I would have handled the whole matter differently or not, all we need to do is take a look at our day to day conducts. The choices we make in little matters in our day to day conducts can be great indicators of who we really are. The bible says:   "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" Luke 16:10     In other words, if we do the right thing in small matters, it is a test to our character that we can be trusted in big matters to follow the same pattern of character as well. On the flip side, the negative behaviors we reflect in small matters, if an opportunity is presented in a big scale, they are surely to come out in a big and magnified way as well. Having this in mind, let's observe the below scenarios:      


If we  have the habit of stealing; I am not talking about big theft,  very small amount as well and covering it up so no one knows. If we have the habit of always being selfish, full of grid, serving no one but self at the expense of others, If we have the habit of deceitfulness, lying, covering things up,

Then what all these behaviors indicate is that if we were to be entrusted to oversee a country like Gaddafi, billions of dollars, then there is a big chance that we might end up stealing millions like Gaddafi did. You may say, no this is different. What they did is different. What they did is horrible.    

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" Luke 16:10



If we have the habit of being prideful: being snobby, looking others down, not wanting to associate with "those low people", the habit of striking others down to look big and good before others, the habit of destroying the reputation of others to cover up our own faults,  then there is a big chance that if we were in Gaddafi’s shoes, like Gaddafi did, we also could call ourselves the ‘King of Kings’ and there is a big chance that we also could devastate a country economically to feed our own ego and prideful desires.  

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much
" Luke 16:10


If we have the habit of hating people we have problem with, hating them so much to the point we wish they were dead,   the desire to see them crippled in every way in life just because we have some issues with them,  the desire to go out of way to hurt anyone who crossed us in any shape or form,   then what all these behaviors indicate is that if we were in Gaddafi’s position, we would have gotten people who opposed us killed like he did in thousands.  The bible says whoever hates a brother or sister is a murderer (1John2:11).  In fact,  the killing had already been commited in a heart full of hate. That is why the bible says whoever hates a brother is a murderer.   May be the next steps were not followed only due to fear of retribution. Thus, the behaviors mentioned above are the symptoms of anyone who have the potential to do what Gaddafi did to his people.      

You see, what we do in small scale is what we are capable of doing in big scale. What we do in small scale is an indication of who we really are. All the behaviors mentioned above are the small mirror reflections of these magnified and big acts that we hear and see on TV regarding the horrific actions of people like Gaddafi. It may not feel like it is a big deal when we do it because it did not happen in a big and magnified way. It is a small act no one pays attention to but the spirit of the act is the same and clearly it shows the attitude of the heart.  

Putting these comparisons does not mean I am condoning or minimizing the crimes of people like Gaddafi. It is despicable and heinous crime that should not be excused or seen lightly in any shape or form. They deserve every single punishment given by the court of law.  But the BIG point I am trying to highlight is, how about our own hatred, selfishness, grid, pride, immorality and as such?  how do we also put our own actions in check? we can not condemn the actions of these dictators and involve in divisions, hatred, vengeance, selfishness and as such and move on as if nothing happened and continue condemning these dictators every time their names come up in  conversations. As much as Gaddafi's story is appalling and barbaric, unless we learn what not to be from these people, we can end up repeating similar actions in our day to day walks as well. It is very easy to point out fingers without never looking with in. Let us also take time to really look into our own heart whenever we talk about these kinds of stories, lest we can be as guilty too. Let us use these kinds of stories to challenge our own divisions, hatred, bigotry, vengeance, selfishness, and grid.

How did the condition of the human heart got so wicked? How can we overcome all these challenges?

Ever since the human heart got corrupted by sin in the Garden of Eden, it is bent towards evil not good, deceit not honesty and integrity. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9. In Genesis 6:5, the bible also says: "The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time."That is why Gaddafi and his family did what they did. That is why we hear unbelievable kinds of crimes from unexpected people all the time. In Romans 7:21-25, the apostle Paul says:   " So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? This is the reason why you and I struggel to do what is right all the time.

Then the verse continues to say this "....Thanks to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!".  Thank God, then there is hope!

We can not change the inclination of our sinful heart by own own will power. Only God can change it. This does not mean that we have an excuse to do whatever we want. God gave everyone conscious to discern what is right from wrong. In the final analysis, we are accountable for all our actions. Yet, the core of all wickedness that exists in this world relies on the issue of the human heart, corrupted by sin. Self help books, moral teachings, human discipline, all these can improve the behavior, but it can not change the root cause.

If we want real fix for the ills of this world, trying to change just the behavior will not go much further.  But rather, the totality of the condition of the heart has to be changed.  And no one can change that but God. Only God is able to take out a heart full of hate, selfishness, pride, cruelty,  and give us a heart full of love, selflessness, compassion and sensitivity for others. We need to come to God pleading for his saving grace. 

Ezekiel 11:19 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

We can see that God is willing to change our bad heart and give us good and clean heart so long we are willing to submit our life to his authority.  If we are willing to receive, He is willing to give. God would not force anything upon us.  As King David prayed, we  also need to come to the throne of God saying:  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10   
The most difficult task on the face of the earth is not to lead a country but rather to submit our carnal desires under the authorithy of God. When we are willing to die for our carnal desires daily and live for God, that is when we are able to find our true identity and what the purpose of our existence on this earth is. Only then we are able to make a positive impact with in our families, small groups, Churches, Synagog, in our Governments and as such.  Otherwise, the same cycle of violence we observe from a distance also repeats with in our midst. The person who was disgusted by the actions of Gaddafi from afar can easily repeat the same evil acts if he were to be entrusted for the same position for forty two years.  Whoever can control self to daily choose what is right, is the most victorious person on earth. "Better... one with self-control than one who takes a city" Proverbs 16:32 .     
Oh God, create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me as I know how weak I am.


God bless you