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Friday, February 8, 2013

Pondering a Hierarchy of Sin

Is my sin bigger than yours?

What is sin, anyway? Is it just breaking one of God’s laws?

Well, yes, but it’s so much more. To me, sin is acting as though what God says to be good or bad is false. In other words, you either think He’s stupid or lying to you.

You see, God loves us enough to want to guide our futures. Like an earthly parent, He wants to steer us into behaviors that are beneficial, and away from those that are not. Like when your parents told you not to eat that five-pound bag ofbag of candy candy.

However, unlike an earthly parent, He is all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful. Though an earthly father may make a mistake or misjudge a situation, God never will.

So when we disobey what God says is right, we are displaying our lack of trust in who He is—lacking faith.

With that in mind let’s look at all kinds of sins. I think many of us have a tendency to prioritize them—calling some small, like “little white lies,” and others big, like prostitution and drug use. Yes, while in church or studying Paul’s letters in the Bible, we say “sin is sin.” But secretly we are relieved that at least we did not do THAT.

What is THAT anyway?

Let me give you two scenarios:

Scenario 1

A woman, raised in the suburbs by a strict, but caring family, marries a Christian man with high standards regarding money management. He counsels his wife on the importance of frugality on a regular basis, reminding her that the less money they save, the less they’ll have to give to her favorite charities. Though these lectures are frequent, she has not grown numb to them, as they are a constant reminder she is thoughtlesdresss, careless and ungenerous. Yet, when that dress on the display calls her name, telling her she deserves a reward for all the work she does homeschooling the kids, she gives in to the temptation to buy it. It wasn’t that much over budget after all.

Then the Kohl’s bill arrives and her husband asks why the balance is so large. She reminds him that kids’ clothes don’t cost what they used to and tells him she—conveniently—lost the receipt.

Scenario 2

Another young woman, also raised in the suburbs, by a strict, but abusive father flees from home, fearing his next drunken rage could lead to her death. She’s tried to tell others about the abuse, but no one believes her. She hopes to find a job in the city, but who will hire a teen with no work experience? She lives under a bridge for weeks until one man finds her, tells her she is beautiful, and that he will protect and provide for her. All she has to do is a little work for him. No harm. It’s meaningless, so she won’t be giving anything of value asyringeway. In fact, she might even get rich!

Her new line of work takes small pieces of her, one trick at a time, until she decides to use drugs to dull the pain—at least that’s what her new friends tell her the drugs will do.

Doing the Math

The first woman didn’t trust God’s law enough to protect herself from a lecture. The second, to survive the only way she knew how. Which temptation required a greater degree of faith to resist?

I won’t say.

Why? Because in my human condition I may not really know all the particulars. Maybe the profligate housewife was abused when she overspent. Maybe the prostitute had aunts and uncles who offered to take her in, but she refused wanting to control her own destiny.

There are a myriad of possibilities which would change the appearance of faith in these women, and no human can know them all. That’s why judgment is God’s alone. Only He knows the truth.

Am I excusing sin because of circumstances? Absolutely not! Sin is sin, and should be avoided in striving to live as God has called us, trusting that He knows best in all situations, and that He alone will provide.

My point here, however, is to draw a picture of why, when noticing the speck in another’s eye, Jesus cautions us about the plank in our own.

Other posts you might like:

Do You Have a Get-in-the-Chair Kind of Faith?

Can You Really Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner?

What Will Judgment Day Look Like?

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