The hair on the back of your neck stands up. You’re sitting in a nice restaurant on Friday night with friends and family, laughing, enjoying a great time together. It’s been a long, difficult week, and you’ve looked forward to this evening for days. As you unwind, enjoying some of the most important people in your life, a man and a woman walk in. There is nothing overtly suspicious about them, but your “spider sense” kicks in, telling you something is wrong. Rationalizing your senses, you regain composure and mentally rejoin your party – until everything unravels. Your hunch was right. The suspicious man pulls out a large, stainless steel butter knife, approaches an unsuspecting diner and takes the diner’s life. The suspicious woman follows, pulling out her own butter knife and takes out another diner. In an instant the once happy scene turns into one of carnage, as one-by-one, the butter knife wielding couple go from table to table, repeating their terror. It’s obvious that if you do nothing, your fate – and the fate of your friends and family – will be the same. What do you do?

“A huge movement is underway to ban God and faith. We have been attacking God – and we are surprised at the rise of evil? We should not be shunning God. We should be flocking to Him.”

There’s a great deal of talk about new gun legislation and gun confiscation. Some people should not have guns – but some people absolutely should. No doubt, we could use a more detailed look at some of the loop holes on gun laws. But there are also a great deal of loopy ideas about gun laws and gun confiscation that miss the point entirely. Cain killed Abel – and no mention of a gun is found anywhere in that account(Genesis 4). People who want to kill people will find ways to kill people. What we need to do is promote love so that it overcomes hate. The best way to do this is to focus on the cause of violence, not the symptoms. History teaches us that the cause of evil is the human heart.

“Murder begins in the heart – and the best way to deal with the heart is to get God involved.But we keep making it clear that we don’t want anything to do with Him. Ironically, we’re getting what we want.”


So, what would YOU do in the above scenario?

FIRST, let’s deal with the obvious obstacle: it’s hard to believe that a butter knife would be the cause of such terror. (It’s hard to believe a butter knife could be the cause of such terror). You’re right. Truth is, butter knives are not the real problem. This is proven by the fact that they are issued as standard dining hardware for diners around the world, and the overwhelming majority of people know how to handle a butter knife. This is because they are law-abiding, level-headed people who simply want to get down to the brass tacks of conversation and dining. Is the butter knife really the problem?


SECOND, you could close your eyes and recite “serenity now” over and over again. You could try to take a trip to your “happy place,” but that won’t transform the current scene into a happy place. People other than you are being taken out. Closing your eyes and turning your head won’t help any of the victims. If you really care about other people you will immediately think about their lives, not just your own. Closing your eyes would be irresponsible and completely selfish.  If you don’t care about your fellow diners in this scenario, you should be ashamed of yourself. And, if I can appeal to our selfish motives, that butter knife wielding couple will eventually make their way to your table, and you will be next.


THIRD, you could devote your life to anti-butter knife legislation, butter knife confiscation and the demonization of butter knives. You could also devote yourself to legislation banning martial arts, boxing, wrestling, archery and more. But would doing so address the heart of the matter – which is the human heart? And, will your philanthropic plan do anything to change the urgent, pressing scene you and fellow diners now face?

Suppose, in a perfect world, you succeeded in banning the purchase, manufacture and possession of all butter knives. This would make you feel some sense of satisfaction, for a while – but would it keep people from getting butter knives illegally? And, suppose people intent on hurting others simply shift their methodology and begin using forks to take out innocent lives. Are you then going to shift your focus to the banning of forks, too?

Where does it stop? Evil is an exceptionally creative force. We kill people every day, not with butter knives, but with the weapon of our words – and even thoughts. Jesus said, “If a man even looks with lust at a woman, he has committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). The heart, teaches Jesus, is the real weapon. And this is precisely the point.



FOURTH, you will do what you surely won’t enjoy doing, but you will do it for the sake of others, not merely for yourself. Given the painful choice between allowing overtly evil people to harm those who are innocent, you will intervene – with your own butter knife. But then you realize that this is impossible – because you pushed for the ban on butter knives and succeeded. Instead, you reach for your fork – until you recall that you were successful in banning forks, too. In your frantic quest to protect the innocent, and to fend for your own life, too, you reach for the bread, realizing it’s still legal and widely available. But the slices of french bread are no match against the illegally obtained butter knife that came against the other diners and is now coming against you. If you had focused on the heart of the matter, which is the human heart, you might have found a butter knife in the moment you really needed one. And, you may have even reduced the instances of people seeking to obtain butter knives and forks illegally.

Here’s the point, my friends:we need a massiveand thorough shift in where we are placing our attention and efforts. While we keep de-emphasizing the importance of God and faith, we are experiencing a rapid rise in the instances of evil. Why? Because we are fixating on the fruit and not the root. We are focusing on and attacking the wrong thing. Murder begins in the heart – and the best way to deal with the heart is to get God involved. But we keep making it clear that we don’t want anything to do with Him. Ironically, we’re getting what we want.

A huge movement is underway to ban God and faith. We have been attacking God – and we are surprised at the rise of evil? Come on, people, this should be obvious. Our problem is that we are fighting God when we should be running toward Him and promoting Him like never before. Come on, people, the problem should be obvious. We should not be shunning God. We should be flocking to Him. 

All fruit comes from the root, and the root issue is the human heart. Banning and demonizing butter knives is to miss the point, entirely, at a time when we really can’t afford to miss the point at all. Is a hand gun merely an offensive weapon? And suppose, we banned all handguns, rifles and ammunition everywhere. Would that address our real issue? Remember, Cain killed Abel with his heart and hands. Cain had a human problem because he had a God problem. The same is true of us. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are guns our real problem? As we see growing hostility against God, Christianity, the Bible and nearly all public expressions of faith, is it a coincidence that society is becoming increasingly angry, hateful and violent? Or, could it be, that the heart has always been – and will always be – our greatest adversary? Could it be that the real need of the hour is actually a return to God – or perhaps a turning to God for the very first time – so that we really get to the heart of the matter?

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Michael Anthony, CourageMatters.comA Call For Courage, Michael Anthony I'm a husband, father, inspirational speaker, podcaster, blogger, and Lead Pastor of Genesis Church, in York, Pennsylvania, where I live among farm animals and snack foods. I'm the author of A Call for Courage: Living With Power, Truth and Love In An Age of Intolerance and Fear (Thomas Nelson Publishers), and the soon to be released Courageous Life™ Motivational Planner. Both are available wherever books are sold. Send speaking, interview, and guest appearance inquiries to , or click here and do your thing. For keynote speaking, interview and guest appearance inquiries, contact
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