pretty much summed up
my definition of sin
and I pleased you
But you set
a higher standard
one I try
I reply with curtness
to a rude waitress
and I sin
I do enough
and I sin
I write about you
and I sin
for my spiritual restoration
and I sin
When I started
I never dreamed
you cared so much
about such small things
I hesitated to share this poem, for it reveals the shallowness of my early experiences with God.
Basically, the parameters of my faith were: no sex outside marriage, no lies, no stealing. If I did a decent job on those, I felt fairly successful and had a bit of spiritual pride. OK, a lot. Notice though, I only had three. God had ten primary ones, a much more difficult job, so I created my own Reader’s Digest version. Please don’t try this at home. I made sure they were do-able and I could keep them in mind. You may have your own shortened list, and it may vary from mine. That’s OK, we’re really doing the same thing.
Then I came across Romans 14:23, and my life changed: “…everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Hence, the soul searching of the above poem.
Before, if I didn’t greatly wound another, I did well, until I read Ephesians 4:29: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up” (NRSV). If I didn’t intent to build them, then I sinned. Ouch.
Before, if I did the bare minimum of the task, I did well, until I read Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” If I didn’t put my all into it with excellence, then I sinned. Another ouch.
Before, if I did something to serve God, I did well, even if I took subsurface pride in doing so, until I read 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “live in order to please God.” If my goal was selfish, then I sinned. Yet another.
Before, I took pride in regularly worshipping, yet I sinned because I worshipped for my own needs, to get a spiritual recharge more than to glorify God, according to Luke 4:8: “Jesus answered, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
My goal here isn’t to make faith a longer list of rules, but to deepen our concept of what faith touches. Everything. Because God loves us and wants the absolute best for us, he yearns for us to avoid whatever makes life less abundant, for us and others.
So, very briefly, before we act, we can quickly consider, what will bring God the most glory here? What will most express a desire to benefit others? What will increase the smiles in heaven. OK, sometimes we can’t decide these quickly. I know that. So let’s back off until we have a better picture, until we can do it with genuine faith.
Kick Starting the Discussion
Do you minimize God’s standards, like I tend to do? It may be to fit your preferences, your weaknesses, your politics, your economics. How do you specifically do that? More importantly, what in you causes that?
Have you ever pondered Romans 14:23, that all life needs to flow from faith? Take some time now and chew on it. How can you make intentional acts of faith a greater part of following Jesus?