Benevolence Vs. Malevolence


Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

~Ephesians 4:32, NRSV


Maliciousness is the tendency of man to do evil with the good that God has given him.

~Martin Luther

In studying Romans chapter one in preparation for upcoming sermons, I came across these thoughts in Luther’s commentary. One of the signs of man’s deep depravity is maliciousness. There are stages to man’s devolution. Man has not evolved, he has fallen. Man, a part from grace, does not get better, he gets increasingly worse. The lowest state is that of the futile mind or reprobate mind. At this level, man can no longer discern evil from good. Isaiah the prophet mentions this in 5:20,
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

One of the characteristics of this low state of depravity is malicious behavior. Malignity is the perverse tendency of man to ignore the good or to use the good for evil purposes. It usually arises out of envy and jealously. It is violent and hurtful. Malevolence is violence or hurtful behavior against man. A great example of this is found in the character Prince Malagant in the movie FIRST KNIGHT. Malagant is envious of Arthur who is adored by the masses. His envy causes him to rebel and to declare himself the ruler. Arthur believed in freedom and serving people but Malagant used force and fear to rule people. He is hateful, spiteful and violent.

Opposite of malignity or malevolence is benevolence. Benevolence is the heartfelt desire to be obliging and to do good to others. It comes from two words, bene meaning good such as the word beneficial and velle meaning will. Simply stated, benevolence is “good will” or kindness. Luther says there are two kinds of benevolence. He labels them perfect and imperfect but we could call them Christian and unchristian. Christian benevolence is good will no matter what the response. The imperfect or unchristian benevolence continues only so long as it is appreciated. When it encounters ingratitude or evil, it ceases. My mother’s favorite bible verse was Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another.” It’s not always easy to do, is it? It takes a special grace; one that only Christ can provide.

PTL, we got rain about 20 minutes ago and there was some hail mixed in. It poured for 5 minutes or so. It will sure help the garden. Thank you Jesus! Yes! I am pumped! I do love rain. Hallelujah, it is raining again!

LORD willing we are going to visit the Amish in Ethridge, Tennessee today. Looking forward to a little road trip. It will be the first since Christmas.

FRIDAY’S ARE FANTASTIC! I’ve never met a person, a working person, who didn’t love Friday. Congratulations to our group who got to go to the Beach. Now if we can just get Dolly to open her theme park, we will be in good shape.

Sunday is red/white/blue day at GRACE POINT. The sheriff is our honored guest. Monday is a day to remember the fallen but we always recognize those who are serving us at present. We could not enjoy such freedom without law and order and the Military and the Police afford us this wonderful luxury.

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