Digging up evil

“I’m going to go dig in the dirt.”

This is a common phrase among gardeners; a self-deprecating way of saying we intend to make something beautiful from something as basic and down-and-dirty as….dirt.

Oh, yes; there is more to gardening than the soil we work in, but the fact is that there is a lot of dirty old dirt involved in the process.

In spite of being raised with four brothers who fed me mud pies and “sand-wiches” by them, I really don’t like touching dirt. I use gloves whenever possible.

The main reason for my aversion is not so much the dirt itself, but what’s in it. Grubs, rotting vegetation, worms, and animal droppings are not pleasant to come in contact with as I strive to make the garden pretty and productive.

My motives in the garden are positive, creating food and beauty. I would be a sorry individual indeed if I were to go out and dig in the dirt just to find dead animals and disgusting things!

As laughable as the second scenario is, this is what some people inadvertently find themselves doing. The Bible calls them “scoundrels,” and unlike Han Solo in the movie “Star Wars,” I don’t like the sound of that.

“A wicked scoundrel digs up evil,
and his slander is like a scorching fire” (Proverbs 16:27, NET).

We all know people who like to dig up the worst in people, to find fault and not beauty and goodness. The relative that always comments on somebody’s weight behind her back, or the parents at soccer who whispers about the new family at school….we’ve all heard the unkind results of digging.

In a presidential election year, the digging becomes major excavation on a massive scale.

Others dig up their own evil. Not everyone has sweet memories of an idyllic childhood, and digging here can result in horrid skeletons from a haunted past.

Some even go back to early events in their lives to justify bad behavior in the present. Some stay permanently depressed and psychologically damaged because their therapists insist on “digging up evil” in their pasts.

All too often this is counter-productive, and serves to embed the depression as the ugly past imprints even further on the damaged psyche. Just as the gardener must deal with dirt, we must deal with the unpleasant circumstances of our pasts. But we don’t have to dig it up on purpose!

Right now, even as I type, I remember seeing this morning that my mole trap has been sprung. I didn’t relish digging up the carcass of the mole earlier today, and it’s not a task I’m looking forward to doing. (Where IS that Yard Boy of mine?)

Dredging up unpleasant and ugly things is an awful way to go about your life, but don’t we all fall into a touch of this sometimes? Maybe it’s the culture that we live in, the news media that we’ve come to depend on and which we’ve even become addicted to. The old adage in news circles, “If it bleeds, it leads” is not the way our minds and hearts should work.

God has a better way.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NKJV).

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