Now that I have your attention …
We don’t talk about sin much anymore. It may be because ‘sin’ is an outmoded idea; conversely, it could be that we see so much of it in the world it’s entirely too big a topic to broach. I think both are true.
If we consider sin to be anything that takes us out of the will of God, we’ve all got quite a bit to be nervous about. We don’t seem to spend much time talking about it and even less thinking about it. We should. A little self-examination is good for the soul. The tricky part about looking at our sin is to step away from the tendency to berate ourselves and beat ourselves up over our sin. All we’re really called to do is see it, recognize it for what it is, and do all we can to eliminate it from our lives.
Besetting sin is a main, or constant problem or fault (Merriam-Webster online dictionary). It’s that thing that we do over and over again, sometimes not even wittingly as it’s become so much a part of us. Those are the hard ones to eradicate. It takes concerted effort; a constant awareness and watchfulness and folks tend to be lazy about a lot of things – this included.
The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth. Very little thought is required to understand why these are sins. Pride puts ourselves above others – we’re very happy with ourselves and look askance at anyone who doesn’t quite live up to our own bar. Greed makes us spend our time and efforts chasing after ‘filthy lucre’; the Bible has an excellent reference to greed – go ahead and spend your time amassing all the money and goods you want; you can’t take it with you and someone else is going to enjoy it after you’re gone. We’re told to seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be given to us. That’s all we really need. Wrath – that’s a big one right; one has only to view the landscape of America right now to know the evils of wrath. People are so quick to ire and punish. Frightening times. I’ve never understood envy – wishing we had what our neighbor has, and them having what they do makes them better than we and we want to be better than other people. Vicious cycle. God granted me the knowledge and understanding of envy early on in life; everything comes with a price – much of which I have never been willing to pay. He has given me all that I need all of my life. Other folks have more or better? I’m happy for them; it has no effect on my life. Lust – it’s not just about bodies and sex, folks. Lusting can and does come in many guises and we do well to watch for it. Gluttony. Hmmm … this one is harder. What is gluttony? Habitual greed and excess in eating. We have to decide for ourselves where our limits are. Many people are weight conscious but it seems, if you look at a group of people, there are more weight unconscious. I’ve been there. I’ve been up and I’ve been down and I think that long road is closed now. I feel that it is. But I’ll keep an eye on it and let you know. Finally, there’s sloth. Uh-oh. Does procrastination count? Ok; I seem to have a problem with silverware in the kitchen sink. While silverware is important to everyday life, I find it as exciting as mating socks in the laundry. Or watching paint dry. Maybe that’s my besetting sin?
And then we come to the unspeakables. Those sins we tell to no one. The ones whose memory disturbs us. We all carry them because we are a fallen and broken people. They tend to be the sins we actually kneel to ask forgiveness for. The ones we can never forgive ourselves for. The ones only God sees. It is our job, in our self-examination, to keep an eye on them that they cannot ever be repeated. They make our hearts ache and make us ashamed to face God – but we have to; it’s the biggest part repentance and if we are honest and truly repentant, God shows us again His grace and unbounded love. Hard work. Heartbreaking work. But so completely and totally worth being in His will again. In my mind’s eye, I see the sinner grow and blossom and face toward the Son and bask in His warmth. That’s all of us – every single one of us.