Little Sin. Big Sin.

When you think about “sin” do you tend to think of it in terms of “little sin” and “big sin”?  Do you think of it as if God is going to have this cosmic scale, and He’s going to put your good stuff on the “good side” and your bad stuff on the “bad side” and whichever side weighs more that’s where you’ll be heading?  Do you envision the scale, and some sins are HUGE WEIGHTS on the bad side…and others are on the bad side but more like a skinny piece of paper?   I think people sometimes think of it as though some sins carry more weight and are “bigger” and some sins are pretty light and kind of little.  For example a “little white lie” isn’t really all THAT bad.  After all it’s not an outright lie–it’s just misleading or omitting part and the rest is actually true or thinking of the other person’s feelings and protecting them with a little dishonesty. Oh it’s not entirely right, because it’s a little bit dishonest, but it’s not “wrong.”  That can’t be all THAT bad can it?  On the other hand there are some sins that people generally think of as big ones: murdering, raping, adultery–those are all clearly wrong and on the bad side of the scale, those sins would be BIG and really tip the scale!

Did you ever notice that the sins that you do are probably the ones you think of as “smaller,” and the ones that other people do are “bigger”?  Sure you swear a little–maybe drink on weekends–look at the occasional x-rated pic–even lie a little tiny bit so your spouse’s feelings aren’t hurt.  But all-in-all you still think of yourself as a pretty decent person, and you may look at a person in jail for murder or even at your disloyal spouse and think to yourself, “Oh sure I’m not perfect but I would NEVER (fill in the blank here).”  On the other hand the sins of other people are ENORMOUS!!   The lady at church who gossips about your personal business–that’s a huge, unforgivable sin.  The guy at work who cheats on his job, steals from the company and gets caught–that’s big sin!

When it comes to infidelity, loyals very often look at their disloyal and think that the sin of adultery is a HUGE sin but barely even think about their own.  If they even did something to contribute, it was little and not anywhere near as big as adultery!   This week, though, a person I know and consider highly on another forum reminded me that sin is sin is sin.  God has set a high and holy standard of righteousness and Romans 3:23 tells us that “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  God demands perfection, and not only does he demand outward perfection but also INWARD–in the heart and mind.  “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  (Matt. 23:28)   The person on the other forum had a spouse who was actively committing adultery but who refused to repent, but prior to the spouse’s departure, this person had fairly regularly looked at porn.  Since the spouse’s affair, the person had stopped viewing porn in all forms, but as we all so frequently do, had thought “Well sure I wasn’t perfect but looking is not the same as doing!  It’s small.  But actually COMMITTING adultery..well that’s a big sin! Huge!”

In Matthew 5: 17-19 Jesus is talking to his disciples and asks them: “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”  He is telling them that our actions outwardly are a result of/linked to our inner condition–our heart.  When our heart looks at things selfishly, with lust, desiring it for ourselves and in an immoral way…that is the condition of our inner self and that is sin. We’ve all heard the verse that’s part of the Sermon on the Mount:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” ( Matt. 5:27)  Again here, Jesus is telling us that sin is not only what we do OUTSIDE in our actions, but also INSIDE in our inner mind.  What we think about is what we talk about and what we eventually DO.

As Christians, we are not to try to stay away from “big sin” or to keep our sin small enough that it is hidden or just inside our thoughts.  We were in the sea of sin and we drowned in it and we were DEAD, but Christ rescued us from that death and breathed into us new life.  We are not supposed to wash the outside of the cup while the inside remains filthy (Matt 23:25-26). Rather than looking at the sins of others and thinking about how their sin was so big but ours was (relatively) small, let’s clean even our insides and our inner selves by renewing our mind. (Romans 12:2)  If you are the disloyal spouse, don’t be so prideful that you avoid seeing how dishonest, distrustful and hurtful your affair really was to your loyal.  Don’t minimize it and maximize what they did–look to yourself!  Be honest–it was sin, it displeased God and hurt your spouse and almost destroyed your family!  If you are the loyal spouse, don’t think of how “small” your sin was in your marriage before the affair.  There were issues.  They harmed you, harmed your marriage, and MOST IMPORTANTLY harmed your relationship with God!  Both disloyal and loyal need to keep the focus on obeying God and pleasing Him inside and out…not the the “size” of what you did wrong.

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