Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Opposite of Sin Is...

Last time I wrote, I speculated that the root cause of sin is selfishness:  putting ourselves and our own self-interest, as we perceive it, before everything else. I could be wrong, of course, and you're free to give me another view of it, but that's how it seems to me. We watch constantly for some threat
to what we think is important to our self, and grasp after what we want, or defend any threat to what we believe we must have. For example, sometimes I hear The Lovely Joanne saying something I think is critical of me -- so my reaction is to protect myself with words or withdrawing.  James says in chapter 4:1-3, in part, "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them." So, don't our selfish actions and words come from our innate selfishness?

But we can't just stop a certain attitude or action -- that leaves us doing nothing, which isn't realistic. If we cut out selfishness, what about doing good instead? Wouldn't that be "the opposite of sin"?

John's first epistle describes what it means to love others. In 1 John 3:16, he defines love as self-giving: "We know what real love is, because Jesus gave up his life for us." Then he writes "So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters." Now, giving up my life sounds pretty drastic! But John says that's what love is -- giving of the self. That's the opposite of selfishness, which is a root of sin.

Well, how can we be confident enough to do what John says?  How can we give up our lives -- even a daily agenda or an hour of time to someone? The opposite of sin, I believe, is rooted in trust: believing that God himself will take care of our needs. Paul said we can trust God in 2 Cor. 9: "You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. 'For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.' And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, 'They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.' ”

What if you're asked to giving money to a cause, or for a new project at church?  Or if you're asked to give someone time and attention, or help with a physical chore? What about the really tough assignments: forgiveness and understanding? Those take the most self-giving, and the most trust, of all.  Regardless, God promises to take care of us by providing "all we need."

So here's the question for today:
  • Can you trust the One who has already given himself to guarantee your eternal life, to replace money or time that you gave to another of His kids? If you forgive and work to understand someone, can you trust that God will take care of you? 
If you can trust Him like this, you might be able to reduce that self-protection I wrote about earlier. That could lead to more loving relationships with others and a greater sense of peace.

How about asking Him for more trust in Him, so you can love others like He does?  That's a prayer our Father will answer!

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