“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NIV)
Like preparing items for a garage sale, I go through life assigning value. Nickels and dimes here. Big bucks there. How do I establish value? I determine it in several ways. One is cost; another is whether or not I have a stake. For example, the way my children value items varies greatly. When their money is on the counter, they spend carefully. With my cash, anything goes.
Could the same hold true for sin? As a reference point, let’s take a quick look at the Big Ten from Exodus 20: 1-17. I’ll paraphrase:
1) Serve no other gods but the real one, God with a big G.
2) Have no idols, especially not the American kind.
3) Use God’s name with respect.
4) Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy. Rest, worship, and don’t work.
5) Honor one’s parents.
6) Don’t murder.
7) Don’t commit adultery.
8) Don’t steal.
9) Don’t lie.
10) Don’t envy other people’s stuff.
When it comes to sin, my “own understanding” misses the mark. I justify sin. I rank it. I pass the buck or hide its evidence. I sugarcoat it. I dilute it. I judge sin in others while ignoring the dirt under my own fingernails. If sin and its consequences often seem cheap, it’s because sin costs me so little. God, however, said the violation of even one of the above commands was enough to put Jesus on the cross. Of course, the other option is to pay the price myself. One sin, one death. Uh-oh–the value just went up.
As I grow in my relationship with God, I gain a better understanding of His holiness—and of my need for it. I begin to grasp the magnitude and the absurdity of the sacrifice: God Himself leaving heaven for earth, to bleed and die on man’s behalf. I get real about sin, not only because I value the cost, but also because it wounds my growing relationship with the Father. That’s a place I don’t want to go. Sin becomes serious. Little white lies, costly.
It’s a matter of perspective, His vs. mine.
Questions for the Week:
Where are you on the spectrum of your own understanding vs. what God says?
Does your relationship with God hold enough value for you to stop long and hard to consider a sin before you hurt the relationship?
Do you apply this principle to other relationships? Faithfulness to a spouse? Obedience to a parent? Loyalty to a friend?
When does the value of the relationship trump a sin?
What does the cost or penalty of sin tell you about God’s holiness and righteousness?
Are there any relationships for which you would willingly give your life in order to reconcile and restore the two parties?