Sunday, March 1, 2009
Continuing in the 'Sunday Sermon' series (each entry of which can be read by clicking in to the label below this posting) with the fifth of the six things that the Lord hates from Proverbs 6:16-19 in the Bible's 'Old Testament.' This time we are discussing those times that we not only sin, not only plan and plot to sin, but we rush to it enthusiastically, even happily. Of course we know that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Some of us know that all too well. And yet despite that knowledge we not only fail to control our appetites, we not only allow ourselves to remain obese, but we rush to the ice cream aisle at the grocery store for some Haagen Dazs or Breyers or Turkey Hill. We know that lust is a deadly sin, but we dive into that sexual affair anyway. We not only plan and plot to make time for physical intimacy with that illicit partner, but we rush happily and excitedly to those liaisons. We all understand that greed is a deadly sin, but we all too often succumb to the mantra spoken by Michael Douglas' character of Gordon Gekko (pictured) in the 1987 motion picture 'Wall Street': "..greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works." Especially when it comes to money, we want more. Wanting more isn't the bad thing. What is bad about it is when we want that 'more money' so badly that we cut corners to get it, possibly even commit fraud and other crimes. When we take away from others what is rightly theirs, including time with us from our families. Those working hard to make ends meet and give their families a better life, perhaps working two jobs or extended hours, are not those being spoken about here. Here we are talking about those whose ends are meeting like nobodies business, but who continue to drive forward, distancing themselves from their loving, familial, inter-personal relationships. Greed, for lack of a better word, is bad. It is wrong, it does not work. It destroys, it separates, it blinds those who fall into its trap. Yet so many rush off eagerly to get more, to make more, to sell more, to steal more, to take more, caring about little else in that greedy dash to win a rat race that no one has ever won. In the end, we all end up in the same place. You and me and Donald Trump and Bill Gates all end up in the same exact place in our earthly lives. But where will we end up when those lives are completed? Sloth is the sin of simply not caring, or of giving up in despair. How many people do we know who simply continue to wallow in the mire of their own self-pity. Life is difficult at times, and at times it deals all of us bad hands. Sometimes it deals us incredibly emotional tragic hands. Sorrow is a natural reaction, as is grief. We all need time to grieve. But we also need to heal, and we need to mend. When we allow ourselves to continue on, wallowing in our grief and sadness and despair, we are sinning. God challenges us for reasons that only He knows. It is our job to meet those challenges head on, not to eagerly run into a corner and hide from the life which goes on despite the hurt that we refuse to overcome. Another of the deadly sins is wrath, that anger which we all have felt at times. But there are some who seem perpetually angry with the world. The angry young man who is mad at the world, the woman who is constantly yelling at her spouse or kids. The deadly sins include envy and pride also. How many of us are jealous of someone else's home, or kids, or partner, or job, or clothes, or look, or even their entire life? Look at what you have, and make it the best that you can, and find your happiness there. No one can be truly happy by taking what belongs to another. Two of God's commandments speak directly to this situation: "Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's spouse" and "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods". Wipe the covetous thoughts from your mind and heart rather than embracing and being overcome by them. As for pride, how many of us in reality have it so much better than everyone else that we can afford this sin? My body is hotter than yours. My hair is better than yours. My test grades are higher than yours. My car is faster and sleeker than yours. Fact is, there is always someone out there who has it better than you. If you have something good going on, enjoy it and be happy about it. But you should never flaunt it in someone else's face. When God gives you a gift, whether that is something physical or material or spiritual, you need to humbly acknowledge that gift, cherish it, and manage it with great care. We also always need to remember those who have less. Not out of pity, but out of genuine human caring and concern. We are all going to fall. We are all sinners. But when we are sinning and in the process of doing so rush excitedly to commit them, when our feet run swiftly to evil, then we are doing something that the Lord expressly and exceedingly hates. We need to begin applying the brakes, stop in our tracks, and turn around to Him and His way and away from the sins we rush madly towards.