Keeping score

Published 8:58 am Friday, February 23, 2018

We are really good at keeping score. We know who the richest person in our neighborhood is. We know who drives the nicest car. We know who has the rowdiest kids. We know who goes to church and who doesn’t. We struggle with this insecurity that we can’t let anyone else get ahead of us. We want to be the strongest, the brightest, and the wealthiest.
This insecurity even fuels our desire to be more righteous than others. Sometimes when I hear Christians discuss their church families, it often feels like I am listening to two kids argue about who is better at sports. We go from person to person picking out their sins and their flaws without any hesitation. This person just got divorced. We saw this person leaving the beer store the other day. We heard one lady talk bad about the preacher. We heard one man say a four-letter word he shouldn’t have. We keep score. We want to know that other people sin more than we do because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
I don’t think that looking at sin this way is beneficial to us or anyone else. Because when we look at sin as something to compete at, we often look at others as people whose value as a person and as a Christian is either more or less than our own. This perspective on sin degrades others and ourselves.
So how should we look at sin? If sin is not these individual acts that accumulate and make us feel bad, then what is it? I believe sin is the term we use to describe our broken relationship with our Creator. Of course, one act, such as eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, can break the covenant with God. But we often focus way too much on the individual act and not enough on the broken relationship.
Matthew 5:27-30 reads, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
We can all agree that based on Christ’s “fulfillment” of the Law, we are doomed. We can somehow commit adultery in our hearts even if we don’t do the act itself. Christ seems to be saying that He is more concerned about our diseased hearts than he is our actions. What about this whole plucking our eye out deal? We pride ourselves in taking God’s Word literally, don’t we? However, I’ve never walked into a church with the majority of the congregation having no hands, no feet, no eyes, and no tongue. Maybe that was Christ’s point. Maybe He is wanting us to see that if we tried to get ourselves into Heaven through our own righteousness by cutting off the parts of us that cause us to sin, then we would still end up in Hell except with no eyes, tongue, or limbs. Because you and I both know that even if we cut out our sinful eyes, our sinful hands would still cause us to sin.
We are sinful by nature. It is in our DNA. You can’t run from it. You can’t hide from it. You can’t get rid of it. However, you can confront it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We can confront our sin by accepting and resting in the precious and perfect blood of Jesus Christ. If you are trying to work your way to Heaven by being better than everyone else, you will fail. But if you realize that grace is a gift that we do not deserve, a true gift from God, then and only then can you be set free from your sinful nature. Only the blood of Jesus can do that.
So I encourage you to stop working and slaving and killing yourself to be perfect. Stop trying to impress everyone around you. Stop sweeping the dirt in your life under the rug and hiding your skeletons in your closet. Jesus asks us to be real about our brokenness because it is in our brokenness that His wholeness is made manifest. Hebrews 10:10 states, “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Did you know that you have been made perfect in the eyes of God? God is still working on you and sanctifying you, but nonetheless, you have been redeemed forever. Rest in that blessed assurance that Jesus Christ and His righteousness is now yours for all eternity.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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