How Bad Can I Be?

It’s March Break here in Canada, and the kids are home for the week. Since today is my usual day off, we planned to do something fun with the kids.

Our local movie theater just changed hands and has gone through some changes. It reopened this weekend, so we went for a matinee today and saw “The Lorax.”

The Lorax is a great movie with a lot of messages. The obvious message is literally about “saving the trees.” But there are many more messages than that. One that I hit me came out of a musical number that results in the transformation of the forested valley.

In the song, the Once-Ler character gets a taste of success, and does everything he can to make it grow. The point of the song is his defense of his actions, and the chorus is the part I want to focus on here:

How bad can I be?
I’m just doing what comes naturally
How bad can I be?
I’m just following my destiny

Doing what comes naturally, is easy and simple. It is in-the-moment thinking, and it feels good. Sometimes we forget that what we do naturally is not the best for us, and often has devastating repercussions into many other lives. The reason for this is because what comes naturally is most probably sin. It’s fun, it’s pleasing, and it works right at that time, but that natural tendency is usually selfish and short-sighted.

In the story of the Lorax, Once-Ler quickly falls from a young man with dreams and sensitivity to a man driven by greed and being bigger. It is the transformation of Paradise into a barren wasteland. In seeking all he desires by doing what comes naturally and following his destiny, Once-Ler brings about his personal demise while robbing others of life as they know it.

We have to be sure to evaluate what comes naturally and seems like destiny in our lives. For a person to recognize they are creative, to develop a product that is useful and desirable, and find a market for that product, seems like a great American Dream story. It even sounds like someone discovering and using their God-given talents. What is difficult for us to remember and apply is a the fact that just because I can do something does not mean that I should do something.

Paul gives us a simple test to help us determine if we are headed in the wrong direction.


“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

(1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV)

Once-Ler was seeking to build himself. The Lorax will later ask him if he has filled the whole yet inside of him. And this is the problem with selfishness: We justify every action, thinking we will be able to fill every need, but we end up feeling like we have nothing.

Sometimes we forget that what we do naturally is not the best for us, and often has devastating repercussions into many other lives.

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