Why the Sins I Haven’t Committed Are So Bad
I’ve committed a lot of sins. I mean a lot of sins. I won’t list them all, though if a few of the right people were to find my medium profile, they might be happy to share. Suffice it to say that while I have never built a graven image in my backyard, I’ve obliterated a few of the Ten Commandments and New Testament principles. In short, I am a sinner.
Of course, for those who brandish the label of Christian, the knowledge that we are all sinners should keep us humble. It should, but it doesn’t. Because, you see, in modern Christianity, the worst sins are the ones that I do not commit. The sins I commit, of course, are a struggle, and once the circumstances that make it impossible for me to stop them change, I will be a better person. But, that being said, I am still a better person than — you know — YOU.
Picture a dinner table after church on Sunday. The blessing has been said, the food has been passed. Now it’s time to talk about “them gays” and “them Mexicans.” It’s time to talk about how the Johnson’s can’t manage their debts and how the Simpson’s daughter got pregnant “by a black boy” (the last phrase is said in a whisper). The eccentric cousin is summarily raked over the coals in spiritual fashion, under the guise of concern and prayer of course. And because no one currently sitting at the table is embezzling funds, having an affair, or in love with someone of the same gender, they can share a corner of the temple with the Pharisee in Luke 18.
Are some sins worse than others? Maybe. You can certainly find a verse here and there to support that position if that is your goal. I’m not sure that’s a goal that Jesus told us to have, but hey, to each his own. I mean, some people have more money than others too. I make around 50K a year. That’s more than a Starbucks barista in a small town might make. It’s less than my youngest will make as a computer science engineer. He’ll probably make around 75K. Of course, all three of us are paupers when compared to Bill Gates. And since all of us are measured against God, I’m thinking…..maybe ranking sins isn’t the best use of our time.
However, for the sake of argument, if I were going to investigate which sins really stick in God’s craw, I think I’d start with the things God has said He hates:
“There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
- Haughty eyes
- A lying tongue
- Hands that shed innocent blood
- A heart that devises wicked plans
- Feet that run rapidly to evil
- A false witness who utters lies
- One who spreads strife among brothers”
Let’s break this down into more modern terms. Haughty eyes sounds like a pretty good description of pride and condescension. We have plenty of that in the church, don’t we? From the short skirt that visitor wore to the past sin Judy committed in college to the new believer who can’t quite quit partying. A lying tongue is pretty easy to figure out too. Lying not just to others, but to ourselves. We’re good at that. Hands that shed innocent blood…I won’t get political, but it’s not too hard to see where that one might be relevant. Feet that run rapidly to evil can be observed in quite a few ways. The man who is quick to lose his temper instead of seek to understand, the woman who decides to gossip about an offense rather than go to the other party and work together, the way we fall back into our old patterns when things get rough. And how many of us who have suffered legitimate pain at the hands of someone else have chosen to devise elaborate revenge, if only in our minds, instead of practicing the forgiveness that we have been given. And take a look at social media: false witnesses are everyone, even on the news, on all sides. Finally, if you’ve ever been in a church business meeting or had coffee with someone who doesn’t like hymns or doesn’t like choruses or doesn’t like that the pastor wears tennis shoes, you know that spreading strife is a favorite pastime of many.
B-b-but what about all those other sins? What about those sins that are right there in the Bible in black and white?? I haven’t forgotten about those. Trust me, no one has forgotten about those. They get 99% of the airtime. Do you commit any of those? If not, then maybe looking in a mirror would be more beneficial. After all, I really am not responsible for what my neighbor down the street does. I don’t have to celebrate it (no…I don’t), but my own eye-plank is of more concern to me (and to God, by the way).
So let’s do an evaluation. What is my dinner table conversation like? What do I post on social media, more concerned about my righteous indignation than whether the truth has been delivered in love. Have I spent as much time following the two greatest commandments as I have telling yet another acquaintance about that terrible thing Sharon did a few years back?
Because, believe it or not, the sins I commit matter more in my life than the ones I don’t.