Sunday, March 30, 2014

More Than A Choice

How I feel when I sin: 

And then it changed to...
And now it's like...

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out…”

Well, this is all fine and good, but what if the sins are in your mind? You can’t crack open your skull and heave your brain away.

I guess this isn’t what Jesus really meant, otherwise we’d have a lot of maimed and blind people walking around. I think what he was really getting at is how seriously we should take our efforts to stop sinning. We should literally do everything in our power to keep from offending God, even if it means a drastic inconvenience for us: giving something up, forming a new habit, turning off the TV or the computer, etc. Lent is a fabulous time to do this and can be a springboard to continuing a good habit for the rest of our lives.

Perhaps we think “What’s so bad about sin, anyway? Why does God care what I do? He’s God—nothing can hurt Him.” And indeed, Satan does his best to make sin look like a personal choice that doesn’t really affect anyone, least of all an all-powerful God. “Come on now,” you say, “who is going to know or care if I overeat/look at pornography/masturbate/put off my prayers? These are things that affect me and my life. They are my personal choices.” But the Church, in her great wisdom, teaches differently, stating that sin causes slavery and not only damages an individual but the entire community and the church as a whole.

How can this be? Simply because sin is so much more than a personal choice or a private action in a dark room. It is a statement of defiance against God, telling Him “I prefer my will over Your will. I’m going to do this even though I know You have forbidden it.” We are basically saying that we know better than God what is good for us. We are making ourselves God. And that is just wrong, not to mention plainly, inexcusably dumb.

The other main reason why sin is such a serious matter is that it flatly rejects the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Consider Jesus, abandoned, scourged almost to death, nearly blinded with the crown of thorns and His own blood, and hanging on that cross for hours, all while knowing in His omnipotence that millions of souls would still reject His sacrifice and choose hell. Would you give up your life for a friend or your family if you knew they would be indifferent, not care at all, and possibly even mock you? Not me, brother. The saints called sinning “trampling on the blood of Jesus.” After He went through such intense suffering and a brutal death in order to redeem you from Satan’s slavery over you, are you still going to choose sin? (by the way, the answer is no).

Lent is more than half over today, and if your resolutions haven’t been working out so well (like mine), it’s never too late to renew them. Another great saint said that old habits can only be conquered if they are replaced by new habits. Today would be a good day to sit down and make a prayerful list of things to implement into your life in the weeks and months (and years) to come.


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