The past few weeks I’ve been leading a Sunday School lesson at a local church based around the Crown Financial‘s teaching material Discovering God’s Way of Handling Money. I’ve really enjoyed doing this. Part of this past week’s lesson was on honesty, and it triggered an interesting thought during my preparation for the class, and also sparked an interesting conversation during the class. Namely: Christians find very clever ways to be dishonest, and not necessarily always feel bad about them. This led me to think of sins beyond dishonesty as well.
Sure – most people would agree that grand theft auto, adultery, murder, and underage drinking are all examples of things we shouldn’t do. But what about the more subtle sins that we seem to overlook? I say this not from a pulpit of condemnation, because I’m just as guilty, but I want to share with you a list of five sins, in no particular oder, and only from my perspective, that the Church as a whole has seemed to gloss over and not put a whole lot of weight into. I’m sure there are multitudes more, but here’s just five.
- Petty theft. I’m talking about piracy here. Examples: putting a new Microsoft Office Suite on more computers than the license allows. Stealing your neighbor’s wireless Internet. Splicing the cable wire outside and then splitting the cost with the neighbors (the same ones you’re stealing the wireless from!). Taking office supplies home that aren’t yours.
- Taxes. Originally I clumped this under petty theft, then realized it needed its own space. Not reporting all your income on your tax forms is blatant sin. Let me repeat: not reporting all the money your earn on your tax forms to the IRS is not what God wants you to do. Just because we don’t agree with all that the government does with our tax money is NOT reason to cheat them. Jesus said it plainly: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. And Paul enforced the idea again that we are to subject ourselves to the government that God himself has put into place. That means obeying them in paying what we owe.
- Speeding. I’m super guilty on this one (well, actually not in the past 5.5 months). This is a sin that we don’t necessarily argue against from a logical or interpretative standpoint – it’s just one that’s willfully ignored.
- Gossip and Slander. Especially in the form of special group prayer requests. “Dear God, we pray for Jane’s son who is sleeping with his girlfriend, and who may have even started using drugs, and just yesterday mentioned dropping out of school. Lord we know he frequents the bars almost nightly, and hasn’t been to a Sunday service in 3 months.” Even outside of the prayerful gossip, Christians are notorious for wanting to degrade leaders, friends, and enemies alike. We focus so much more on the negative than on the positive in life, that I’m sure it breaks God’s heart.
- Being Stingy. Yes, I’m calling this a sin. There’s no reason not to tip more than 15%, even if the service is terrible. There’s no reason to keep track of each dollar spent on each family member and being sure the debits and credits are reconciled. There’s no reason to spend more on vacations than we do in charitable donations (ouch – did I just put that in print?). There’s no reason not to buy the homeless woman a cup of coffee standing outside the coffee shop, even if your schedule’s cramped. And the part that really gets me steamed: we trick ourselves into thinking that by starving generosity by withholding a few dollars here and there, we’re being better stewards.
Jack, once we’re in good standing with Jesus, sinning doesn’t send us to hell. And we’re no longer enslaved to the Law – so there is no code that we have to follow per say. But sin still breaks God’s heart. And although we’re already forgiven from our sins, we should still do all we can to avoid it. Additionally, we’re called to live radically different from the world around us – and intentionally seeking a holy, set apart life is a phenomenal way of living a life that demands a Gospel explanation.
My admonishment to you is simple: don’t overlook the “small” sins in our lives. Yes, it’s a huge victory to stay faithful in marriage, but disrespecting your wife behind her back is still equal grounds for repentance. As I said in my last letter, the power of perspective is monstrously powerful. Till next time, Jack,