Continued from yesterday…
Here on Earth there would be different consequences for those different sins. But how does God see it?
If you have read the Bible, you know that there is actually no list in there that ranks sins. It’s not in there! I’ve read it cover to cover, and it’s not there. There are a few places in the Bible that list certain crimes and appropriate punishments (Leviticus comes to mind) and these are helpful because they show us today how much God has always loved and taken care of His people. Those laws, in part, tell the ancient Hebrew people how to avoid things and actions that could have wiped them out as a nation…for example did you know that the Bible describes how to monitor and eliminate black mold in your house? Pretty cool for a people who lived thousands of years ago and who had noway of knowing what a bacteria or fungus was or that certain molds can kill you. I think those laws and punishments for failing to follow them are in the Bible to show us how God gave us a set of rules when we needed them most to keep us safe and out of trouble. But I digress…
If you think about it, that makes sense even from a purely practical standpoint…if the Bible were a handbook of sins, listing their names and rank in ascending order and describing the appropriate punishment for each sin, then it would read like a law library. They’d have had to list every possible sin from the beginning of time through present. Can you imagine some ancient brother sitting there in the sun in his goat-hair shirt, scratching out the punishment for Cyber-Hacking on a scroll of parchment? Let me tell you, from the point of view of a parent it’s pretty darn hard to anticipate which sorts of sins your kids will come up with in advance of the crime…never in my life would I have thought to warn my son against pogo-sticking down a flight of stairs, but sure enough he went ahead and did it! And that’s just one person…think of all the creative sinning the human race manages to come up with! Once you got down all the sinful possibilities, it would also require hundreds of thousands of volumes to contain all that information and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that very few…VERY FEW…people would be compelled to… or even able to… to read it!
That’s not the kind of God we have. He’s not up there with a pencil and notepad, checking off our sins and ranking their offensiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. There’s no report card where you might earn a B- because of your accumulation of little piddly sins, or an F because of your grievous sins. He also doesn’t grade on a curve, so if you were banking on that one you can put that thought to rest. Don’t get me wrong…it’s not that he doesn’t notice the sins…in fact he knows every action and every thought that we’ve ever experienced! But in God’s eyes, anything that falls short of perfect and glorious is…a sin. Period. A small sin is a big sin is a medium sin. A sin is a sin….. is a sin.
Wait a minute here! Hold the phone. So am I telling you that if you grumble an insult to the slow checker at the supermarket, that makes you as bad a sinner as if you were to murder someone if cold blood? How could that be? Surely not! Well….here’s what Jesus said about that: (Matthew 21-22) “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (By the way, “Raca” is just a term of contempt in Aramaic …so when I read that passage I can just substitute Raca for whatever nasty term I used to describe the driver who cut me off on the freeway last week). It’s harsh, but there you have it…the sin of being angry is the same as the sin of murder in God’s eyes. Yipes!
What does that mean for me? Well, here’s the third point I’ve been thinking about. The fact that all sins are equal in God’s eyes, and therefore we are all equally sinners in God’s eyes can change the way you think in a couple of ways. One is this….any idea I might have had that I am somehow better than anyone else is pretty much nullified. I’m not holier than thou…or than anyone else for that matter! I’m just an ordinary sinner, whether I’m a prison inmate or a pastor at a mission in Africa. The other is, even if I have some pretty nasty sins on my record, I need to accept the fact that God sees me in the same light as he does the really, really “good” people! My sins are no bigger, no harder for God to forgive, no more black or ugly than anyone else’s sins. Mother Theresa, Jeffery Dhalmer, and the homeschool’n housewife mother of 3 are all in the same boat, sin wise.
So where does that leave us? We’re all sinners, and all sins separate us equally from God. If you have made it this far in this rather lengthy post you are probably thinking….”Gee, thanks! That was a terribly uplifting thought for the day!” Well…I don’t mean to bum you out, honestly I don’t. The really great news is that God is all powerful, and He is bigger than any sin we could ever come up with. It is not God’s desire to see us all die in our sin, so He gave us a way to reconcile ourselves to Him! It’s not hard. There is no thousand-volume set of law encyclopedias involved, no long list of do’s and don’ts, no committee that meets to see who can and who cannot be forgiven of their sins. God offers complete forgiveness to us as a free gift, no strings attached. All we have to do is accept it! All we have to do is ask.
This is turning into another novel…so I’m going to sign off for the day. But there’s so much more! God is so good. And I am really excited to write it down….if you’ve made it this far on this post, thanks for sticking it out! I hope I made at least some sense here and that I haven’t butchered what I was trying to say. The thoughts move so much faster than the words, it’s hard to get them down!