I’ve a book called “Respectable Sins” or something like that. I’ve not read it yet, but have some ideas about what it likely says. Today’s devotional reading offers more clues by suggesting that many Christians can be law-abiding citizens, even be respected in their churches, but have a great deal of sin in their lives. That is, we can easily condemn the visible, but if no one can see it, we can just as easily condone the small stuff.
My sister told me of a friend who was jogging and witnessed a car veer off the road and into a ditch. She ran to see if anyone was injured. No one was. The car was filled to the brim with people who were obviously filled to the brim with alcohol. She was disgusted and even revolted by these drunken people. Shaking her head, she went back up on the road to call for help. As she did, she heard the voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “This is how I feel about you whenever your life is outside of my will.”
It is easy to point fingers. At least I find it easy, yet am often reminded that when I do that, there are three fingers pointing back at me. Quick to judge others often means that whatever I find offensive in them is something I am guilty of, even the same sin in me, and both it and finger-pointing are offensive to God.
We had communion at church yesterday after a sermon on the Lord Jesus being full of grace and truth. The pastor pointed out the word order and said that we as Christians are quick to reverse it. We are eager to speak the truth when more often than not we should be eager to be gracious, to treat people well, including those who do nothing to deserve it.
The communion service often includes these words: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:27–32)
Part of the sermon was about the increasing persecution of Christians and an increasing misunderstanding of what we believe. Some say Christians are anti-everything. The world does not see us as messengers of grace, as bearers of good news, but as judgmental hypocrites.
Sometimes this rejection happens because many do not want to hear about Jesus or about His remedy for sin. They would rather continue on their path and keep their lifestyle. However, not all of it stems from spiritual resistance. Some Christians are rejected simply because we act like jerks. That is not persecution, no matter what we might claim. We hold on to our “respectable sins” and think that being “holier than thou” is a good testimony.
This is not the way of Jesus. He was tempted in all points like we are, but He did not sin. He did not offend people because He acted like an idiot; but offended them because He was holy. Being around a sinless person makes the best of us feel dirty and unclean. Their only solution was to get rid of Jesus.
If Christians are thinking like Christ and living godly lives, we will suffer persecution also. For those who are convicted by goodness, the only solution they can think of is to get rid of the cause of conviction.
Back to the woman on the roadside and the respectable sins. If I gossip, boast, disrespect leaders, and do a host of other things that most people accept as “normal,” I might look okay to others, but what does God say? Can I look in the mirror and be honest with Him and with myself? If I am thinking with the mind of Christ, then can I live with any sin? Can I get away with pointing my fingers at others? Can I take communion as if nothing is wrong?
God says to forget about what others are doing and examine myself, not just for the obvious sin, but for those sinful attitudes that are less obvious. He also reminds me that I am not accountable to anyone else but Him.