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A Seed of Suffering


Holocaust victims brutally imprisoned at Buchenwald.

Simon Wiesenthal, the so-called "Nazi hunter" who helped track down over 1,100 war criminals after World War II, died in his sleep this week. After losing almost 100 relatives in several concentration camps and staring into the face of death himself, he lived to the age of 96.

"We must never forget," Wiesenthal famously said. He devoted his life to "justice, not vengeance" as he helped governments bring captors, torturers, leaders and murderers to face world courts.

Clearly, the horrors of the holocaust left a mark upon this man, as one would expect. But if we could pinpoint one thing that shaped his life, what would it be?

It's the same thing that continues to plague the world today, from the flooded streets of New Orleans to the blood-soaked sands of Iraq. It's the same thing that enables a church council president to be a serial killer. It motivates a CEO to plunder the pensions of his employees. It fuels genocide in Sudan. It's something that every single person on this planet, throughout every age, class and culture, must face.

This thing is called "sin." Sin is the seed planted in every human at birth. It is a weed that, left untended, will choke out all semblance of goodness and decency. Sin germinates within the human soul in various forms. A seed of anger may sprout into hatred and, taken to its extreme, murder. A seed of selfishness could blossom into greed, deception or thievery. A seed of lust can grow into moral compromise, betrayal, depravity or even rape.

Almost every form of human suffering can be traced back to sin. Divorce courts are filled with couples torn apart by the sin of infidelity. Prisons are filled with cheaters, swindlers, robbers, rapists, murderers and child molesters. Graveyards are filled with the victims of gangs, racists, despots and other brutal sinners. War is always the result of someone's sin, either as aggressor or oppressor.

Government tends to merely prune the leaves of sin, cutting back extreme behavior, while leaving the stem intact. Given the nature of a free and permissive society, not much more can be expected of a civil service structure.

Churches, mental health professionals and self-help groups tend to dig deeper, unearthing core causes of sinful conduct in an attempt to eradicate the roots. Programs that target the seed of sin consistently have higher success rates than those that simply punish the offender, yet we continue to live in a world overgrown with the ugliness of sin.

It is not enough to simply treat the symptoms of sin. Even more, it is not enough to destroy the roots of sin. Unless a new seed is planted in the life of every sinner, the old roots of evil will repeatedly fill the empty space and grow stronger.

The man who referred to himself as "chief among sinners" experienced a supernatural encounter, which halted his persecution of first-century Christians. It didn't just root out the hatred in his soul; a seed was planted, empowering him to become, as he said, "a new creation." This remarkable transformation enabled him to positively impact the world for the next 2,000 years. His life illustrates the power of good when it replaces the innate evil in man's soul.

Simon Wiesenthal is reported to have said, "None of my ‘clients' - not Eichmann, not Stangl, not Mengele, and not even Hitler or Stalin - was born a criminal. Somebody had to teach them to hate." I would dare say that the hatred was simply a pre-existing seed of sin that flourished in these monsters' lives.

While Wiesenthal served society well by diligently working toward justice, mankind will never overcome the Nazis of the world until sin is torn out by the roots and replaced with something new and good.

We must never forget those who have suffered at the hands of sinners. At the same time, if we do not properly deal with the root of sin, we will only repeat the cycles of suffering and pain.

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 675

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.



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