Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sin is against God

Temptation and sin are an everyday experience, but it wasn’t always meant to be that way. Originally God created humanity to live in communion with Him under His protection, but our ancestors were led astray by the devil and his cunning ways. It began with the lie, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3.4) With these words the devil proved that he could not be trusted. But God had a plan to save us from ourselves and death. He understands our weakness. This is why said, “Temptations and sin are sure to come.” We can one the one hand be comforted that our Lord knew in advance that we would sin.

Then He said, “But woe to him by whom they come!” These words are more serious. WOE...isn’t just an insignificant expression. It is serious business to cause someone to sin. It is something that as a priest I consider every day. Are my actions, teachings, and guidance leading others toward God or toward sin? It is often easy to excuse away our behavior by rationalizing the behavior of others. But if we are honest, every day we cause others to sin. But it isn’t all bad news. There is always hope.

Since we all sin, and we are all tempted, the hope is our opportunity for repentance and God’s willingness to hear our confession, but that’s the “easy” (or at least easier) part. In Psalm 50 we pray, “Against You, You only have I sinned and done that which is evil in your sight.” If our sin is against God, and God commands us to forgive those who sin against us, that means He will forgive us. The difficult part is to understand that while we may “feel” the sin of others, their sin is really against God and we have no reason to hold any grudge or resentment against anyone. If OUR sin is only against God, then THEIR sin is also only against God. We really have no legitimate right to refuse to forgive anyone.

Just a bit to consider with today’s Gospel Reading

Luke 16:15-18; 17:1-4 (RSV) - The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void. Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."

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