Many years ago I used to attend a home fellowship group and we were having this discussion about sin. A guy in the group was talking about a hobby he used to have, fixing up old cars and how God had directed him to give that up. He said that for him to continue to indulge in that hobby would be sin.
I remember thinking at the time, as I was a pretty new Christian, how strange that he would call something like fixing up old cars a sin. I didn’t really understand the correlation. To me sin was about the obvious stuff—murder, lying, adultery, and so on.
So how could an innocent hobby be sin?
But he had also mentioned at the time that he put that hobby before God. In other words, it had become an idol in his life. Anything we put before God can become an idol in our life, therefore it is sin.
Yet I am thinking about how Christians get so wrapped up in pointing out sin. We look at someone standing outside the church building smoking and we think, “They’re in sin.” We see a pregnant teenager, so we cluck our tongues and say, “She sinned.” We see a mother harshly grab her toddler by the arm and drag him away and we think, “What a sinner.”
Yet some of us have sin that is behind closed doors. Our sins may not be as obvious. In fact, we may be engaging in an activity, such as fixing up old cars and God has told us to stop, yet we continue.
Or we may be in the comfort of our own home, late at night and we are watching something on television that we know we shouldn’t be. We are married and yet we are chatting online with a person of the opposite sex. No, others can’t see what we are doing so we tend to think we are safe. At least our sin isn’t as obvious as the smoker, the pregnant teen or the mean mother.
We don’t always know the whole story behind a situation. We don’t know that the man who is smoking has been trying for a decade to kick the habit but it has a vice-like grip on him. He doesn’t want to smoke and he has tried to stop but it pulls him in.
We don’t know if the teen girl allowed a moment of weakness (as we all have them) to overtake her. Now she carries a new life and she has determined to get right with God and raise this child to love the Lord.
We don’t know if the angry mother was raised in an abusive home and although she hates the way she blows up so easily, she has been trying so hard to stop. She cries out to God every morning to help her make it through the day without losing it.
You see, we only look at the obvious. We don’t know what goes on in the heart. We don’t know about the tears, the pleading to God or even what the real story may be.
A few years ago my husband told me that we had been walking through the church’s foyer when someone in front of me dropped her pack of cigarettes on the floor. Because I was directly behind this person, to another person it looked like those were my cigarettes. So this other person who thought I was the one who dropped the cigarettes gave me a nasty look. How nice.
She had no clue that first of all, they weren’t even mine. But secondly, what was the nasty look for? When for all I know she could have gone home right after church and given her a husband a tongue-lashing. Yet I wasn’t there to see her “sin” as she thought she had seen mine.
I think we have to be really careful about the way we view people. We don’t know everything about a situation and even though someone else’s sin may appear to be obvious, we need to remember that we have our own issues. As I was reminded this past Wednesday in Bible study, judgment is not for us…that is God’s job.