I believe the ancient Israelite psalmist Asaph did the world a great favor by confessing his unhappiness and bewilderment with the prosperity of the wicked in his day. It wasn’t merely that he envied their prosperity, but something much worse. He was discouraged from being good and doing good by the success of the arrogant. He was troubled that God would permit such a discouragement to take place. In Psalm 73, Asaph wrote:
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply. (Psalm 73:13-16, New International Version)
An antidote for discouragement
When I read about the seven deadly sins, I discovered that there were two varieties of the sin of sloth. One variety of sloth is the laziness or indolence commonly associated with sloth. Another variety is the sloth of discouragement, the unwillingness to do good because of the belief that justice cannot or will not triumph.
I am pleased to share an antidote for discouragement from the New Message from God. This antidote is found in Step 245 of Steps to Knowledge. Step 245 teaches “When others fail, I am reminded of the need for Knowledge.”
I consider the word “fail” in this context to mean “fail to do the right thing, fail to demonstrate good character, fail to act consistently with one’s true self.” In this context, Knowledge is used to signify the great mystery of a person’s life, the greater aspect of mind that we have brought with us from our Ancient Home.
The very first sentence of the step seems to say to me “and by ‘the need for Knowledge,’ we mean ‘your need for Knowledge.'” As I pondered this step further, the step seemed to say to me “and by ‘your need for Knowledge,’ we mean ‘your need to practice, your need to follow the practices (stillness, inner listening, mental investigation, etc.) of Steps to Knowledge.'” It is as if this step is discouraging from looking at those who fail and saying “There for the grace of God go I.” It is as if this step is encouraging me to look at those who fail and say “There for the lack of my practice go I.” An antidote for discouragement over those who fail is to be found in the practice studio, in making the effort to become a better person.
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