Today I'm talking about an uncomfortable topic. (Yeah, that's kind of a habit with me.) I'm about to discuss those sins that we don't take that seriously as Christians. They're our Christian version of "white lies". They're what we consider less serious sins, almost to the point of permissible sins.
Let's start with an easy one, a judgmental attitude. How many times have I disguised my own judgmental attitude as "discernment"? How many times have I looked at someone who wasn't just like me and decided they weren't as spiritually mature, or even weren't as important to God as I was because of some external characteristic, although I never would have admitted it? (blue hair, a tattoo, etc.)
How about materialism? 1 John 3:17, 18 states, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." Now it's getting uncomfortable. "But that's a part of our culture," you say. "C'mon, the American Dream, man!"
Ever think about how contrary to Christianity the American Dream is? Advance yourself, get as far ahead as you can in the world, make all you can. Doesn't there seem to be a direct contradiction between our current, accepted (even by Christians) culture and the above verse? It's so much a part of our everyday life we don't even notice it anymore. But can we think of a better example of our giving than what the Bible speaks of in Mark 12?
V. 41-44 says, And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them. 'Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Have you ever seen a better description of our American church offerings? "They did cast in of their abundance..." It's not what we give God's counting; it's what we keep. How often have I let a mission offering slip by while I kept money in my wallet for what? A new gun, a knife, a kayak? Is that what faith in God means? How often have I displayed eloquently to Jesus exactly where my priorities were by where my money was, or wasn't? Is that what it means to "love the brotherhood"? I don't think so.
Let's take a broader look at these things. Let's consider a more universal idea that I think we ignore, love. How often have I stuck up my nose at people I thought were "beneath me"? How often have I ignored the people Jesus loves because they don't look like me, or act like me, or talk like me? How often have I sat back comfortably on Sunday, talking like a Christian, discussing the deep theology with a friend, when there are hungry people sitting under the bridges a quarter mile down the road, people I drove past to get to my comfortable church?
Love isn't convenient. It isn't true love if we avoid the uncomfortable side of it. We can make all the excuses we want: "I'm late for church", or "I don't want to help a habit. When I have more time, I'll buy food and give it to them." Yeah, answer yourself honestly, how often do I actually show love to those people?
I'm not trying to be especially harsh this evening. All I'm saying is to sit back, look at your life, and see what sins we're sneaking in the back door.
I think all our excuses as to why we couldn't take a moment and show some love, even to the unlovable, are going to sound really lame in heaven.