February 27, 2009

FEB. 27 – SIN STARTS WITH ME

author_portrait

By Jodi Beyeler, news bureau director/writer
SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 3:18-22 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: During Lent, I plan to think about my own sins a lot. But I don’t really want to; it could get messy. And I’d really rather talk about someone else’s issues.

Several weeks ago, I was listening to an interview with former preacher and president of the National Association of Evangelicals Ted Haggard, who was brought down from his position of power and fame by a sex and drug scandal. It seems that he knows a lot more about sin today than several years ago when he was actually preaching about it.

The problem with sin is that it is so much easier to focus on it in relation to others, and not enough time is spent repenting for my own actions. No wonder Jesus said, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Sin has often been used as an excuse for self-righteous judgmentalism, for shaming those who need grace and love and for forgetting that no one is without sin in their own lives, even if they use their power to condemn others.

What would happen if we took a collective break as Christians from being judgmental of others? I think we might find our pews a bit fuller, our relationships stronger and our connection with the only one who should be passing judgment a bit deeper. After we work at this, we may learn that there is room in a loving faith community for pointing out the sins of our brothers and sisters in a way that offers accountability with grace.

Remind me of my unrighteousness, oh God, and teach me your paths.

———-

SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 3:18-22 (NRSV)

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you — not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

»

«

Comments (14)

  1. Thank you for the call to a ‘collective break from judging others’.

    Marion Beyeler February 27, 2009 |
  2. Good morning – whan I faced the challange of Jodi’s first lines it was a ???? WE live our lives to be without sin and so I must go looking. THis year I am very focused on “pray all the time”. So when filling up my car I give thanks for the gas, the money too buy it, the car to drive, the strength to pump the gas, the health to to drive, but my sin is the CO2 and I have very little control over that!!! My daily sis is against creation HELP. Pam

    Pam Harrison February 27, 2009 |
  3. Thank you Jodi (and other writers). I appreciate these devotions so much

    Janet Geyer February 27, 2009 |
  4. Thank you, Jodi, for the wonderful reflection on God’s forgiveness and love that covers all our sins and how that obligates us to extend the same to brothers and sisters in the faith. God is prompting me to apply that nonjudgmental love to a certain situation in my circle of influence and you are spurring me on to make that commitment. Blessings!

    Ruth Hochstetler February 27, 2009 |
  5. Thanks, Jodi, and thanks, Pam. A troubling survey I recently read showed that many Americans think that over consumption is one of the most important issues of our time, but only a small percentage think that they themselves are guilty of it. Until we take the log from our own eyes we will not begin to move beyond any of the global crises that, in my mind, have been caused by the institutionalization of sin.

    Andrew Clouse February 27, 2009 |
  6. This a great reminder of what we should be thinking about during this time of Lent. Thank you for pointing out the sometimes overlooked obvious in each of our lives and pointing us toward the Saviour who cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

    Pam February 27, 2009 |
  7. Jodi,

    Your comments were deeply resonant with me. I have not heard such a reflection on “sin” in a long, long time. It’s not everyday given our penchant for psychologizing, not wanting to moralize, etc., that we speak about “sin” as forthrightly as you have and, especially, of ourselves!! Oh, that “log.” Thanks for setting me on a sobering, yet hopeful, and gracious path for this Lenten season.

    Jim Brenneman February 27, 2009 |
  8. Excellent devotional. God be merciful to me a sinner,(& a judger) !
    p.s. Have you read “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning ? If not I recommend it – expanding the theme you have written about.

    Colin Figures February 27, 2009 |
  9. i enjoyed this reflection. a few weeks ago i saw the hbo documentary about ted haggard. i was distressed at how he was “exiled from his church and his home at the time he needed the support the most. and his wife and children being “punished for the sins of the father” i believe that like christ, our baptismal call is to bring comfort and healing to those in most need of it. instead many times we are the pharisee in the front of the temple thanking god we are not like them. yet isn’t our judgement and discomfort more because we are too well aware that we are like them?

    mary February 27, 2009 |
  10. My Granadfather taught us kids that the only sin was “selfishness”…that of putting our ‘wants’ in front of everyone elses. That is why stealing a penny is just as bad as murder….they all stem from the main root cause, selfishness. Love of money, of fame, of position, of food, of alcohol, just being ‘right’ all stem from the same root cause.

    Charles Witt February 27, 2009 |
  11. This is a wonderfull massage for me during this time to remember my sins ask God to forgive me. Not forgetting that it wasn’t the nails that held JESUS CHRIST on the cross but his LOVE for and me.

    BIRUNGI SUSAN February 27, 2009 |
  12. Thanks again Jodi!
    You are exactly right.
    Our lives are “messy” and if we think other wise we are not being honest with our selves.
    What a wonderful reassurance that God can clean it up and we don’t need to and can’t do it alone.
    Let’s join those many others around the world who are “praying without ceasing” during this time of reflection.

    Lisa Yoder February 28, 2009 |
  13. I was thinking at the beginning of Lent that I want to stop being judgmental, and your devotional message helped me. I have much sin in my nearly 64 years of life, so I’m glad you reminded me to think of my own sin (and how God has forgiven me) and to be forgiving and understand of other sinners like me. Thank you for that important message.

    Charlotte Oda February 28, 2009 |
  14. Thanks so much, Jodi, and all the reflectors, for your timely words. As a star judger, I need to hear these thoughts this Lent, and to turn to my own sinfulness before focussing on the limitations of others. I too watched the documentary on Ted Haggard and felt so empty. How easy it is for me and us to end up like sheep without a shepherd.

    Helen March 4, 2009 |