Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Sin and Selfishness

All sin, ultimately, is selfishness.

That's a hard saying, hard in the face of a world that so often elevates the individual and individual achievement.  It suggests that in fact we should spend less time on ourselves - do we ever really get to spend enough time to suit ourselves? - and more on the things outside of ourselves.

A little enlightened self interest, sure - but sin?  Really?  That's a pretty drastic word for the unkind thought I think or the candy I sneak or the thoughts I have that I shouldn't.   That's more just catering to myself.  I do work hard, you know.  Sacrifice a lot. 

All sin, ultimately, is selfishness.

Sin is simply (if such a word can be used for so devastating a thought)  not doing as God does and not willing as God wills.  It can be anything - an action, a thought, a word.  But when I choose to sin (and as much as I'd like to excuse myself, I do choose it), I choose to do something other than what God would or not will as God wills. 

Why?  Because I have chosen to elevate myself and my desires (or my world, my "deservings") above God and His desires and will.  Whether it is a flagrant sin or simply something secret, the root is the same:  I, O God, am more important and know better than You.

Thus the danger of a culture that worships the individual, that indiscriminately tells us we are the most important thing in the universe and that we are here to self-actualize ourselves:  we believe that our interests, our lives, are the most important things that are going on.  We carefully learn to soothe any sense of "sin" beneath layers of being "God's Creation" and "Unique", forgetting what those words actually mean and imply.

All sin, ultimately, is selfishness.

I write this out of a sense of being first in line.  I have created a plethora of justifications in my life when I sin (and let's not bother with the discussion of if it's sin.  Let's just go with the fact it is).  In my case, I too often hide it beneath a veneer of the "sacrifice" I make by doing what I do (which is not what I love), that I am "owed" whatever pleasures and time I can scratch together, even if such things cause me to ignore the real responsibilities and tasks I am called to. 

I hate writing this, because to shine such a light is to reveal the shriveled thing my inner most self has become - by becoming "rich" in things for myself, I have become poor both in the things of God and the things of responsibility that I am called to do.

All sin, ultimately, is selfishness.

The cure?  Ah, the cure.  Just the most simple and most difficult thing a person ever has to do.  Die to self.

Die to self.  Live to God.  Let go of all that I claim are my rights.  Change my thoughts and my will into God's thoughts and will, my actions into His.  Start by rejecting those ways that I cater to myself, even in the smallest of things.

Repent, of course.  Repent of sin.  Repent of thinking that the clear is not clear, that good and evil are not gray bands moving between each other but clearly defined.  Repent of thinking that my needs outrank anybody else's:  my own, my family, my friends, strangers, God.

All sin, ultimately, is selfishness.

All God glorifying, ultimately, is selflessness.

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