There are certain sins that Christians are always good at pointing out, usually in others. But there are a few that we tend to ignore, and these same few are the ones we also tend to commit more often ourselves.
This sin is closely related to pride. We bury ourselves in debt in order to make sure we have the best and newest things. The disciples often lived off of the generosity of others and Jesus was a poor carpenter. I’m not saying that wealth is inherently bad. It’s not. If you can afford that Mercedes, by all means, buy it. But if you can’t; if you are spending hundreds of dollars each month paying off debt, then you could be committing a modern form of gluttony. You need to look inside yourself and search your heart. If your nice things were taken away, would you still be satisfied and able to find joy in Christ? Why are you really in debt? Who are you trying to impress, God or men?
We like to talk about other people’s lives as if we live in their heads and know everything about them. This is something “churchy” people are constantly accused of, and is often the result of a judgemental attitude. Why won’t the woman who had an abortion come to your church? Because she’s afraid of the looks you’ll give her and the distance at which you will keep her. The same could be said for the pregnant 16 year old or the man who cheated on his wife. Sure, it’s nice to escape our own issues by talking about someone else’s for a while, but let’s try to remember to speak with grace and that our sin is just as sinful as anyone else’s.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us what we already know – that murder is wrong – but he follows that up by saying that anyone who has harboured hatred towards someone has committed murder in his heart. Hatred is connected intimately with fear. We fear people we don’t understand and that fear causes us to hate them irrationally. The general attitude towards all Muslims based on the acts of a small sect is a perfect example of this. We also tend to harbour hatred against those who have hurt us. We constantly need to be searching our heart and monitoring our thoughts and feelings.
This one is the kicker. This is what will be the death of our faith and our influence. I know that Paul tells the churches to expel sinners from their midst. He encourages us not to indulge someone in sinful behaviour. We use those verses to justify judgement of others and I believe this is a gross misinterpretation of scripture. Yes, we are to hold each other accountable, but I would never deign to call out a stranger or even an acquaintance on some perceived sin.
That is what Paul is talking about when he says to hold fellow brothers and sisters accountable in love. He is not talking about condemning others. Every time a Christian judges someone based on skin color, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, promiscuity (the list goes on, you get the idea), then they are acknowledging the belief that they are better than that person. The truth of Jesus is in our equality.
We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Christians have accepted Christ and avoided condemnation based on faith and the grace of God. We do not avoid condemnation based on our own actions. Every time we think less of someone else, we forget that we are also sinners. Paul himself claimed that he was the “worst of all sinners.” If Paul considers himself the worst sinner – a man who dedicated his life to spreading the gospel of Christ and who wrote most of the New Testament – how much more of a sinner am I?
The only way to avoid this sin is to acknowledge our own weaknesses and to embrace humility. In fact, that could help us avoid a multitude of sins.