We see it all the time. Sin. In any number of its many forms. Sin that knows our weaknesses. Sin brought about by Satan, the prince of sin. Sin has become so commonplace that what once was easy to recognize in someone else but hard to recognize in our own lives has now become hard to recognize in anyone.
How many of the following would you consider sinful?
- Abuse, neglect, bullying
- Taking the Lord’s name in vain
- Skipping Mass
- Putting gods in the forms of money, work, people ahead of the one true God
- Adultery, pornography, divorce.
We start the list off easy. Abuse. Neglect. Bullying. Definitely sinful, but lines between abuse and meanness, neglect and forgetfulness, and bullying and teasing often blur.
Taking the Lord’s name in vain is right there in the 10 Commandments, but how many of us thoughtlessly, continuously do so? How many of us text OMG without reflection? How many of us stop at some point between rising and falling each day to use that phrase as it’s intended, to lift ourselves and others in prayer?
How many of us skip church because of family events or housework or conflicts and assume God will understand why He was not a priority? How many of us get upset later because we can’t hear God’s voice in the loud chaos of our lives?
How many of us focus on money and the material goods, on work and the rewards we receive in salary, benefits, and human accolades, or even on other people, husbands, wives, children, parents, friends, making them our whole world? How many of us remember that people are gifts from God to help us in our journey through this world rather than our reason for being in this world?
How many of us frequent illicit websites, local sex shops, or order our secret toys in plain brown wrapping so others don’t know? How many of us lust after a movie star or swoon over tabloid photos of shirtless actors? How many of us read romance novels promoting premarital sex, watch movies showing sex with no consequences, or wish we were with someone else while we lie in the arms of our lover?
How many of us walk away from our families, spouses and children who need us? How many of us will lower our value by becoming simply a paycheck, mistaking child support payments with child rearing? How many of us will require society to pay because we couldn’t or wouldn’t finish what we started? How many of us will force one parent to carry the burden meant to be borne by two? How many of us will sacrifice a child’s laughter, peace, and well being because our happiness is more important or because we refuse to understand the important role we play?
There will always be sinners. We will always be sinners.
Sunday, September 7, 2014’s Gospel reading from the Book of Matthew Chapter 18:15-20 spoke of what to do when we witness sin. We are told to go and confront the sinner, speaking gently and in Love but with firmness and the power of Truth. We are to go as an individual, and, if that does not work, then to go as a pair, and then finally to go as a church.
But confronting a sinner takes two things:
- The ability to recognize sin
- Courage – to seek out others and to confront the sinner
Today, when we fail to recognize sin, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others, we put those we love in danger by not recognizing sinfulness. We expose ourselves and our children to sinful behavior without even realizing it. We risk falling to those same sins while we fail to teach the sinner a better way. We lose the power of discernment and the wisdom to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
Sinfulness has even gone a step further in some instances. It is no longer that we fail to recognize the sin, but that we have actually turned that sin around and cast aspersions on those who follow Biblical teachings. When we use phrases like, “normalize divorce,” and equal marriage rights for all, we excuse the behavior and turn accusations on those who believe in “old-fashioned” values. When we participate in pornography, we fail to see that when sex becomes a game, those involved become players and that in games there are winners and losers and somebody often leaves crying.
We are told to confront the sinner, but that is nearly impossible when sin has become so normalized that we fail to recognize it as such. Confronting the sinner also takes courage, and with fewer people recognizing sin as sin, it is harder to find someone of like mind. It is easier to go along with sin. It can be more fun to hang out freely with the sinner than to speak privately with him about what he is doing.
And perhaps it is our failure to recognize sin and our failure to confront it as such that is our sin. Perhaps by not ruffling feathers, by failing to use God’s Grace of Wisdom, by hiding in our cowardice and failing to seek out like-minded people, by failing to confront others, Satan, the prince of sin, who knows our weakness, is causing us to sin as well.
Do you recognize that in yourself?
Would you recognize sin in another in all its many forms?
Would you go and speak to the sinner in a Loving but firm manner, fueled by Truth?
Or would you pretend the sin doesn’t exist?
What are the long term consequences of your actions?