Sinners, all.

Let’s be honest with each other for once.

I sin.  I try to sin as little as possible, but there are moments where I can’t help myself.

…  Okay, let’s be painfully honest.  I probably could help myself.  But there are moments where I’m stressed out.  Maybe the kids have been exceedingly difficult, or I’m fighting with my husband, or circumstances have conspired against me and I’m way behind in my housework and struggling to keep my head above water.  Then, you know that part of you that cares about what you’re doing is right or wrong?  That voice that tells you, “think before you do that”, or “you may hurt so and so”, or “God really calls for you to be better than that?”  You know that voice?

I get angry, and I flay it and eat it for dinner.  When I’m stressed out, I know that I ought to care but I just, well, I stop caring for a little bit.  And usually the next morning when I wake up and realize the person I temporarily became, I have this total grief hangover.  I want to hate myself.  And in those moments God shows me his grace by reminding me that Jesus died for me not when I was righteous, but when I was at my worst.  You know those handfuls of verses.  John 3:16 is over done, but Romans 5:8 is pretty good.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And there’s 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Now, answer me this:  If I can sin when I know it’s sin and when it feels like sin and when I feel like a pile of horse feces the day after, how much sympathy should I have for those who are sinning and don’t know it?  If I can sin in the face of my salvation, knowing the cost and understanding the consequences, how much pity should I have for those who do not, and sin, and will some day pay the price?

I’m not a bad person.  I’m a mother and a wife, I do the best I can.  I work for my church and I have an important ministry.  My life rotates around God and my family first, my ministry and church brethren second, and my own interests in a weak third.  I’m one of the “good girls”.  And yet I’m a brazen sinner.  Now, let’s be really horrifically painfully honest:  Everyone reading this post has a sin they have been convicted of and haven’t ended- or they just haven’t been convicted yet.  Not a one of you is free and clear.

And when I learn to control my anger, I know that won’t be the end of the journey for me, either.

So we are all sinners.  Sinners, all.  We all fall short and an awful lot of us wake up the next morning wondering why God is trying to save us at all.  So, how much sympathy?  How much love and empathy?  Is it possible to over-feel compassion for those who Christ has yet to touch?  I’m not sure it is.  Christianity isn’t an easy religion.  It’s full of struggles and doubt and pain and frustration.  This journey is not a smooth one.  It’s uphill the whole way and if you look over your shoulder you may defecate in your pants.

I feel for young Christians, so full of hope and fire.  I feel for them because I know that we all come to the place where our energy is flagging and things look pretty grim.  But I feel even more for those who have yet to experience God at all, because I realize there is a way where we can come to the point where our sins are smaller, and farther apart, and where we have the fruit of our labors to show for how much we’ve changed.

We’ve changed.

But we’re all still sinners.

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15 thoughts on “Sinners, all.

  1. Lindsey – I don’t know how you do it but you so beautifully communicate things that I’ve thought in the past. I find it so interesting that while we sin, we still judge others because they are doing some sin we aren’t. I also find it funny that we categorize sins especially since God finds all sin abhorrent, it doesn’t matter what kind of sin we do.

    Thanks for giving me something more to think about.

  2. As always, beautifully written/expressed.

    “There but for the grace of God go I” is something I misunderstood for many years, when I was younger. I saw it as a statement of “look at how I’m doing compared to them!” as opposed to one of compassion and fellow-feeling for other men, women, boys, girls ad their sufferings and struggles.

    Grace = unmerited favor. Lavished on us by a merciful, loving Father, not a taskmaster who is constantly putting black marks next to our names when we sin.

    I’ve been a Christian since 1972 but didn’t *truly* realize all of this until a few years ago… and even now, know that I’ve only just got hold of one tiny fragment of the very topmost part of a mammoth iceberg in my grasp – at very best!

    “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” – The Gospel according to John, chapter 1.

  3. Wow, Lindsey, you are so fortunate that you got into your first (real) paragraph with a few “or”s before you started using the “ands”. (jk) But seriously though, the enemy will ALWAYS come against us as we begin to struggle with something… especially if it relates to the family. Personally, I believe that breaking down the family is his ultimate plan.

    “Then, you know that part of you that cares about what you’re doing is right or wrong?” To this my pastor would say; it’s good that the mechanism inside of you is still working, that’s means redemption is still possible and God has not washed His hands of you.

    Looking at the part where you are in the next day beating yourself up… This is what I have told some people. Imagine you are sitting at a table. Before you are two large drinking glasses. Each one is filled to the brim. One is filled with all the things of the enemy (hatred, guild, fornication, back-biting, etc.) In the other glass you will find all the things of our Lord (love, peace, comfort, redemption, etc.) You have no choice but to pick up one glass and drink from it. Which will you choose? Now (conciously) drink.

    You go on to further mention those who are not “part of the body” and our (basic) attitude towards them. Sometimes it helps me to see those people as I would imagine God would see them. As broken, hurt and confuses children (regardless of their age). Now… how much time have I spent doing what our Lord has called ME to do about their life. Maybe this will surprise you but I am an intercessor. I’ve know that for some time but I have only recently (relatively speaking) realized that the reason the Lord allowes me to “see things” in peopls is that He wants me to pray (specifically) for that person and about that specific thing.

    Now having said all of that, I have even more recently realized that some of the things that bug the tar our of me about some people are the exact thing that is in me. It takes a great deal of discernment and/or some one (or two) with whom I have asked to hold me accountable to bring that into the Light.

    You opened (and closed) with “we are sinners” I am sorry to disagree but here goes. Look what Paul says to the church at Ephusus. “To the Saints at Ephusus”. So in my view if we are convinced of our salvation we are, in fact, saints. Be very careful of calling things that are not as if they are.

    Sorry for the long post but I had the time today.

    Have a great weekend and spoil the father of your children on Sunday!!! Awwww, heck spoil him all weekend.

  4. I think you have made an interesting point here. We are ALL sinners. None walks on water. Our houses are made of glass at the best of times, so throwing stones is unwise.

    🙂

  5. First-time reader, here (I got here from “Jesus Saves . . . the rest of you take full damage”), and may I say that I have a totally non-sexual girl-crush on you? In other words, sweetheart, YOU ROCK!!

  6. I don’t like doing cut-and-paste replies, but this seems pertinent…

    “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

    My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

    (1 John 1:8-2:2.)

  7. Mitzibel-

    LOL!

    “and may I say that I have a totally non-sexual girl-crush on you? In other words, sweetheart, YOU ROCK!!”

    I loved the way you worded that, gave me a good chuckle. Thank you. And yes, I second that….Lindsey does rock!

  8. I really should start responding to comments before there’s too many to go one by one. Everybody: Thanks. I wouldn’t do this anymore if it weren’t for all of you. So, really, thanks.

    e2c: Great passage. And I totally get what you mean about misunderstanding “there but for the grace of God”.

    M54: Oh, you raise such a great point! Because we are redeemed, and we must leave our old way of thinking. I guess I got caught up with using the word “sinner” as simply meaning “one who sins”, which I am. But there’s the Biblical divide between sinner and redeemed, and in that sense I am no longer a sinner. So I’m both, aren’t I? I do sin, but I am redeemed from it. Which puts us back to where we hold one in one hand and one in the other, and both can be true. (And aren’t you getting tired of me saying that? *lol*)

    Sane: One cannot undervalue the importance of a loving earthly family. (And, hey, here we are agreeing with each other. Cool.)

    Mitzibel: Aw, thanks! I adore finding new people, so it’s nice to be found by you!

  9. Lindsey: I’m sure you know the verses in the Bible that say (paraphrase)… as a parent you will do all that you can for your child. Imagine God, Who is infinately more able.

    Well, one of my children (in her teen years) was what you could rightly call rebelious. Although she acted in a way that a stranger would not consider worthy of being loved we could not help but love her. She is our child.

    I imagine that the God Who created me is even more like that. Although I have done nothing to deserve His love, He loves me none the less. He has redeemed (forgotten about) my past.

    When I look at myself, my daughter and others I know well and I consider their past it is easy (in my human mind) to say that, “yes, of course, we are all sinners and saints” but if I have the mind of Christ what does He say?

    The past never happened Christ lives IN me. Redemption is at hand. Very, very difficult to comprehend… especially if you listen to the voice of guilt.

    Any way, that’s my current understanding.

  10. M54,
    “Although I have done nothing to deserve His love, He loves me none the less. He has redeemed (forgotten about) my past.” What a wonder way to state that truth. Are we not so very fortunate to serve a wonderful, forgiving, loving God?

  11. Lindsey, beautiful post. Well written. I’m having a lot of good rumination going over some of your recent posts.

    Isn’t that sin just the bugger of it all! No matter what we do, we are always going to fall short of what God wants us to be and what we know we need to be for God and for each other. That is the consequence of Original Sin (whatever you consider Original Sin to be, Adam eating the apple and/or our human tendency toward rebellion and imperfection).

    As a Lutheran, I’ll quote one of his more well-known concepts. We as Christians live in a state of paradox: we are simultaneously sinner and saint, at once freed from the power of sin and yet still bound to keep on sinning, no matter how hard we try.

    To contrast to M54’s view of the two glasses, Lutherans see things more passively. God has already saved us in the action of Christ, and we do not need to do anything to earn or achieve that salvation and forgiveness. That is grace. While some think that it is possible to reject that salvation and God and lose grace, not all do, and it is still a subject of debate. But, I digress.

    Though we always sin, God loves us and forgives us. We may as well not try to be perfect, just do the best we can with what we’ve got, always trying to show more love to our neighbors. Instead of a destination (perfection), life is a journey, and while we are always called to keep walking toward the horizon, we know that until Christ comes again to finish the work of saving us from ourselves, we’ll never reach it.

  12. Seth; the concept I use with the two glasses of substances to drink from does NOT pertain to our state of salvation. Rather it is a concious exercise that I try to use to demonstrate what happens when the enemy comes to give us the “guilt trip”. The guilt trip comes our of the “enemy’s cup” where as pece, love, forgiveness, etc. are all from “Jesus’ cup”. Salvation is never at question.

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