devozine

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Sin Is . . .

Craig Mitchell

Most of us love to do the wrong thing—at least a little, some of the time. How much do you love . . .

Teens and Secrets

     + avoiding chores?
     + skipping class?
     + gossiping?
     + watching online porn?
     + beating up your younger brother or sister?
     + being sarcastic toward teachers?
     + telling yourself you’re no good?
     + buying clothes you don’t need?
     + telling lies to your parents?
     + borrowing someone else’s words for your essay?

Are all of these things sin?

 

Problems and Solutions

Most of us think of sin as the bad things people do or the things people wish they could do as payback for those who have hurt them. Most of us are pretty good most of the time, but not always. Sometimes we think and do awful things that hurt others or ourselves, things that break the heart of God.

If we think of sin simply as doing the wrong thing, then the solution to sin should be easy; we merely need to do the right thing. But knowing that something is wrong doesn’t always prevent us from doing it. Trying to be a better person doesn’t fix the problem. Maybe sin is not simply bad deeds. Maybe sin is choosing not to love.

Love transforms evil. But because we are imperfect, we do not love with the whole of our being. We fail to see, enjoy, and respect the beauty in ourselves and in all that God has made. We fail to fully receive, celebrate, and return the love of God.

 

God’s Transforming Love

Stone2 TSP 178863861When confronted by a group of angry men who were ready to stone a woman caught in adultery (while ignoring the wrongdoing of the man involved), Jesus did not demonstrate his own moral purity. He offered the woman compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. With love, he transformed a sinful situation.

First John 4:18 (NRSV) says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

Love rights the wrong of sin. God allows us the freedom to choose whom we love and how much we love, just as God chooses to love. God loves us not only because of who we are but also in spite of who we are. God’s love transforms us, giving us a way to grow into perfect love, to become more like Christ, to love others in spite of who they are. You and I, though far from perfect, are not ruled by our imperfections or by the wrong that we do. Instead, we can invite love to free us, fill us, and fulfill us.

 

Grace

Last week, I attended my father’s funeral. People spoke of his remarkable life and of the influence he had on their lives. Yet the minister reminded us that my father wasn’t perfect, that we needed to forgive him and to feel forgiven by him. Then we sang, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”

Before and after his funeral, I spent three weeks in the house where I grew up. I relived many memories—some good, others not so good. Sometimes I felt like a wretch as I sifted through my regrets. But in the end I was reminded of grace, experienced through family and friends to be sure, and yet ultimately through the limitless love of God in Christ.

I can and often do try to be a better person; but it is in those times when I know God loves me, no matter what, that I can live in the world with new eyes and a new heart.

 

heart shaped stones2 TSP 71262991

DIG DEEPER

Read John 8:2–11, the story of the adulterous woman. Meditate on the story. Put yourself in the woman’s place. Listen for what Jesus says to you about your own sinfulness. Hear his words of release, redirection, and renewal.

Craig Mitchell loves chocolate, cooking spicy food, and playing with multimedia. During the day he teaches youth ministry, discipleship, and spirituality at Uniting College in Adelaide, Australia.

—from devozine (March/April 2011). Copyright © 2011 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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