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Words of Life

The Lesser of Two Evils

By Randy Robison October 23, 2016 Words of Life

King Solomon is regarded in Christianity and Judaism as the wisest man to ever live. One story exemplifying his wisdom has become known as “The Judgment of Solomon.”

In it, two women bring a case before him involving the custody of a newborn boy. According to the first woman, the two mothers lived in the same house and gave birth three days apart. The other woman’s child died during the night, so, according to the first woman, the other woman switched their babies. The first woman wants her living child back.

The second woman simply argues that the first woman is lying. Her son did not die and now the other woman is trying to deceive the king in order to wrongly take the living child, who is not rightly hers.

King Solomon deliberates, then orders a sword to be brought to him. In accordance with similar property disputes, he proposes to do what would be done in other cases. The baby would be cut in two and each woman would get half.

From the perspective of the actual mother of the living child, this was the ultimate case of the lesser of two evils. She could consent to the king’s judgment and her son would also die. Or she could recant her legitimate claim and allow her child to be taken and raised by a liar.

In the middle of this story, one would rightly wonder how a king that would put a mother in such a terrible position could ever be considered wise. This innocent mother probably thought Solomon was being unreasonably cruel. She was certainly correct in not wanting the lying, scheming woman to legally abduct her son. She could have made her moral stand right there in the king’s court and refused allow an evil woman to prevail. The price would be her son, but she would at least be able to say that she stood against a bad person. She would have maintained the moral high ground, but lost her posterity.

But instead of thinking of herself, she swallowed her pride and said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” The evil woman then showed her true colors and objected, saying, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!”

Solomon knew the truth. The true mother thought not of herself, but of her child. She risked losing a part of herself solely for the benefit of her son. When faced with two horrible choices, she lovingly chose the lesser of two evils.

Solomon, demonstrating his true wisdom, awarded the rightful mother her son. In her willingness to sacrifice her pride for the benefit of her child, she saved both herself and her future.

So here’s the question for you: When faced with a choice that seems the lesser of two evils, will you think of yourself or those who will be most affected by your decision? Can you risk a personal embarrassment and loss in order to save those you love? Choose wisely. Your future depends on it. 

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