“An old Cherokee told his grandson, ‘My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One wolf is Evil: It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego.
The other wolf is Good: It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.’
The boy thought about it, and asked, ‘Grandfather, which wolf wins?’
The old man quietly replied, ‘The one you feed.’”
- Author unknown.
I have always loved this story. It teaches such a valuable lesson on humanity and the importance of mindfulness in our day-to-day lives. It also made me think of the Seven Deadly Sins. Most people, especially Christians, are familiar with the Ten Commandments and of its importanc, but few know about the equal importance of the Seven Deadly Sins.
If each of us were mindful of these seven serious offenses while also practicing their counterparts, The Seven Virtues, I believe we could help to heal humanity and make this world a much better and loving place for all of us to live in.
What is a sin?
A sin is a transgression against God. Every culture has its own definition on what a sin is, but it is usually considered an action, thought, or a word that is wrongful and offensive in the eyes of our Lord.
Here are the Seven Deadly Sins:
Pride is having an excessive love for oneself and is also known as vanity. It is when a person considers themselves superior to others and wants to put themselves first. This should not be confused with self-love, because that is different. The first has to do with loving and accepting yourself, and the latter has to do with only loving yourself with no care, thought, or regard about other people's feelings or their needs. A prideful person can lack humility and gratitude towards others. They are usually selfish. According to the Bible, pride is one of the most serious sins because it puts our own ego before God and before other people.
Consequences of Pride:
Pride can cause separation and conflict in relationships. It can also lead us away from God and from His will. Pride can prevent us from acknowledging our own weaknesses and for our need to forgive so we can grow as human beings.
How to avoid falling into pride:
The best way to avoid falling into pride is to practice humility and gratitude. We should always acknowledge that we are nothing without God and we should also be grateful for the blessings and talents that He has given to us. We are all sinners and need God’s grace. Each of us should practice having a personal relationship with our Creator through daily prayer and constant communication with Him. We should also be in a sincere and continuous state of repentance with our Heavenly Father.
Greed results from having an irrational desire for what you do not need. It can manifest in the form of hoarding material things, committing theft and robbery, and engaging in bribery and corruption. Not having “enough” can make one covet their neighbor’s possessions and having “too much” can cause one to be prideful. Stinginess is also a form of greed as well as having the strong desire for wealth, fame, and power.
Consequences of greed:
Greed can lead to problems such as jealousy, malice, dishonesty, and distrust of others. It can also cause harm in relationships and lead to personal dissatisfaction and isolation. Additionally, greed can separate us from God and from His will in our lives.
How to resist greed:
The counterparts to greed are kindness, generosity, and charity. Everything that we possess including material things and money are only temporary and cannot bring us real satisfaction or happiness. True wealth comes from having a loving and personal relationship with God, yourself, and others. It is important that we practice humility and gratitude towards our possessions and to use what God has blessed us with to help and serve others. When we are serving others, we are also serving God, which is, after all, our true purpose in life.
Lust is when we have an intense desire to engage in illegal or immoral sex. This can include, but is not limited to, fornication, masturbation, adultery, pornography, etc.
The consequences of lust:
Lust can lead to physical, mental, and spiritual damage. It causes intense feelings of shame, not to mention sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
How to avoid falling into lust:
The virtues to lust are self-love, unselfishness, self-control, and chastity. To avoid falling into the temptations of lust, we should avoid situations that may trigger these carnal desires as we develop and cultivate a close relationship with God. It is also important to surround ourselves with positive and like-minded people who will support us in our fight against lustful temptations and activities.
Sloth, also called laziness, is the inclination to avoid any physical or mental activity and effort. When we engage in laziness, we choose to be inactive and in a state of unnecessary rest. A lazy person is usually seen as a person who lacks ambition, motivation, and is unable to achieve any tasks or goals in life. They avoid work and responsibility.
The consequences of laziness:
Laziness can lead to negative consequences in our daily lives. It can prevent us from completing important tasks, keeping a stable job, and prevent us from pursuing an education or achieving long-term goals. Laziness can also be detrimental to our mental health by causing problems such as depression and anxiety.
How to avoid laziness:
To avoid laziness, we need to set personal and professional goals for ourselves and give ourselves a deadline to meet those goals. It is also important to make a “to do” list every day, no matter how small. This will ensure that we stay physically and mentally active while also helping us to feel productive with a sense of accomplishment. Again, we should surround ourselves with motivated people who are also positive and driven in having a meaningful, happy, and successful life. Remember, "birds of a feather flock together".
Envy is when we desire something that someone else may have without regard to one’s own satisfaction or needs. This can include not only wanting someone’s material things, but also such things as their talent, education, accomplishments, looks, and even their relationships and family.
The consequences of envy:
Envy can lead to jealousy and resentment towards others. It can also cause us to live with a constant dissatisfaction with ourselves. Envy can cause problems in our relationships because it can promote jealousy of our partners, friends, and relatives over their achievements and accomplishments that we feel we do not have. If we continue to “feed” the wolf of envy, it can lead to malicious and dangerous actions towards others such as slander, backbiting, and in severe cases, even physical harm.
How to avoid envy:
To combat the wolf of envy, we need to practice having a heart of gratitude. We should always be thankful to our Heavenly Father for all that He blesses us with day-to-day. There is always something to be thankful for. We can also change our mindsets from a negative one, to a positive one. One way to start doing this is to develop a positive and happy attitude towards others and their accomplishments. We can also remember that each one of us is dealing with some kind of struggle or hardship in our lives and we never know what someone else might be going through. Just because someone may appear happy in public does not mean that they are not dealing with something extremely difficult behind closed doors. Not everyone airs their “dirty laundry” out in public for the entire world to see so it’s extremely important that we do not judge others, nor compare them to ourselves. In addition, envy never leads us to anything positive. It damages our self-esteem and self-worth while feeding the wolf of insecurity and regret. So, as my grandmother used to say, “always count your blessings,” be satisfied and happy with what you have, and in the meantime, work hard to improve your life and circumstances by setting goals and accomplishing them.
To me, this one is extremely important. So many heinous crimes have been committed because of anger. Anger can be defined as a strong emotion that is felt when we feel threatened, frustrated, or offended. It can not only be directed at others, but also at ourselves. Anger can range from mere frustration to full-blown rage.
The consequences of anger:
Anger can lead to many health problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, headaches, sleep disturbances, and many other disorders. It can wreck relationships, both personal and professional, and cause immense tension within groups and communities. Simply put, anger destroys lives and robs you of true happiness.
How to avoid anger:
To resist feeding the anger wolf, we should learn techniques that will help us to deal with the things that trigger us to anger. This might include meditation, prayer, and breathing techniques. We can also try to communicate clearly and calmly with the people who may be unknowingly causing these anger triggers. We can also practice compassion and tolerance for others by stepping back to pause first before reacting to any negative situation. I find that when I practice having a heart of gratitude while also keeping myself busy doing positive and meaningful things, I am less likely to be triggered by other people and I stay in control of my emotions in a healthier way. It also helps to surround yourself with other positive-minded people. I know this is not always feasible, especially in the workplace, but when you can, please do so.
Gluttony is the over consumption of food or anything to the point of waste. This can include eating too soon, too expensively, and too eagerly. When we eat and drink too rapidly, for example, we fail to respect and appreciate food and drink as a gift and blessing from God, which is offensive to Him. Overeating can also be seen as impolite when done in the presence and company of others or to those who prepared the meal. Drunkenness is also a type of gluttony because it involves over drinking to the point of intoxication. One can also eat too daintily by insisting that food is prepared to their exact standards of taste or appearance.
The consequences of gluttony:
Gluttony can lead to serious health problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and addiction just to name a few. It can cause mental illness such as anxiety and depression. And spiritually speaking, it can separate us from God and from our sacred callings in life by making us a slave to our greedy desires.
The counterparts of gluttony are self-control, contentment, discernment, patience, and temperance. Pray to God for the strength to exhibit self-control. Eat regular well-balanced and healthy meals. Also, stay busy. When you are busy doing fruitful things, you are less likely to become bored and seek out food as a way of comfort or satisfaction. Exercise is an excellent way to combat gluttony, because it keeps us focused on doing good to our bodies as opposed to sabotaging it. We are also more likely to be more mindful of the things we consume and put into our sacred vessels when we are actively staying fit and practicing a healthy lifestyle.
Gratitude is the highest form of prayer. ~ Dr. James Rouse.
I believe self-love and having a heart of gratitude is the solution to starving out the evil wolf. When we love ourselves while practicing gratitude, we are content and thankful for all that we have and for all that God has given us. We have more respect for others because we have respect and love for ourselves therefore we are able to feed and fatten the good wolf.
There is a spiritual warfare happening on the earth today. We are facing difficult times. Be sober and stay vigilant (1 Peter 5:8), get your house in order, and prepare for the last days. Jesus Christ of Nazareth lives! And He will return again.
Starting right now, which wolf will you feed?
Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She is well-versed in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies with a focus on health and wellness, fashion and beauty, and natural healing as it pertains to the body, mind, and the soul. She is a diarist and the author of Passion of Flames.