Big Sins, & Little Ones

I was struck by a comment I read today by John Ortberg. He was writing about a high-profile minister who stepped down from a large church. And in the comments that the church leadership made regarding the reasons, they said the pastor had been guilty of “arrogance,” but not “immorality.”

Ortberg goes on to ask: “When did arrogance cease to be immoral?” Why do we only seem to equate immorality with sexual misbehavior? Are the only immoral things the things we do that are tied to our sexuality?

It is striking that in the New Testament, there are no less than ten lists of spiritual vices. They cover the gamut from selfishness, to greed, to quarreling, to anger, to murder, to disobedience, to love of money, to sexual immorality. None of those apply to you? Click on one of the links, and you’re sure to find one that does. Each is a reminder of the ways that we are tempted by “immoral” behavior. Some make the headlines. Some barely make a ripple.

But if we are serious about walking with the Spirit, then we will guard our lives against any form of immorality. Whatever title we have (or don’t have). Whether people notice (or not).

At the same time, I think it’s important to note that different actions have different consequences. Some sin does destroy a family, and leave hurt lives and bodies in its wake. Others have lesser public results. But while some sin is dramatic, all sin is deadly – because all sin leads us away from the life we are called to in Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day, it is much easier to point fingers at the sin of public figures. It is pervertedly comforting to be able to say to yourself, Well, at least I didn’t do what HE did. But if we take seriously the Bible’s challenge on this subject, then we will start with our own lives – and our struggle to live up to the calling that we have. And we’ll not shy away from dealing with those areas where we falter and stumble. Our sin may not make the news, but it is newsworthy – and is the kind of sin that the Good News addresses. And no matter what choices we have made that separate us from God, His grace is enough. For a high profile pastor. And for middling folks like you and me.

Author:

I’m Jeff Dye. After 16 years on staff at a healthy, outreach-minded church, I currently have a ministry called The Paraklesis Project. In the New Testament, “paraklesis” means encouragement — which is what I seek to bring to churches of all sizes through speaking and consulting.

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