Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Ancient Greek mythology frequently showed how heroes wrestled with "tragic flaws" that frequently brought them down. This human condition is known as "hamartia," another word for sin that includes accidental wrongdoing as well as intentional and deliberate errors.
Achilles, for example, had great wrath that caused him to make bad decisions. Oedipus, on the other hand, unwittingly killed his own father.
Several Bible characters had tragic flaws as well. Among them, we have David and Samson succumbing to sexual temptation. Judas Iscariot's greed got the best of him. Moses' anger kept him out of the Promised Land. Lucifer's pride caused him to be cast out of Heaven.
All of these examples reveal errors for us to avoid, but how can we avoid them? "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). To avoid falling victim to tragic flaws, we must lean upon God's "everlasting arms," which remain strong enough to lift us out of the miry clay. (See Deuteronomy 33:27 and Psalm 40:2.)
Some members of the current cast of presidential candidates appear to be struggling with hamartia in areas of lust, pride, greed, and other sins even though some of them have said that Christ is their Savior. It would appear that candidates will change their opinions in an effort to get more votes. It is clear to me that these aspects of the human condition have not changed since ancient times.
God tells us that everything that can be shaken will be shaken, that those things that cannot be shaken will remain. (See Hebrews 12:27.) Heroes (and common folk, as well) will continue to fall if they fail to follow Christ. Truly, He is our only hope.
"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1-2).
To avoid hamartia we must surrender everything to God. We must walk in truth. (Abraham Lincoln said, "The truth is our best friend, no matter what the circumstances may be.") How do we avoid the lusts of the flesh? We must walk in the Spirit. (See Galatians 5:16.)
We need to walk in faith. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "I believe that God will bring good out of evil, even out of the greatest evil. For that purpose he needs men who make the best use of everything. I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us resist in all time of distress. But He never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on Him alone. A faith such as this should allay all our fears for the future. I believe that even our mistakes and shortcomings are turned to good account, and that it is no harder for God to deal with them than with our supposedly good deeds. I believe that God is no timeless fate, but that He waits for and answers sincere prayers and responsible actions."