Battling My Sin
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" (Psalm 66:18-20).
I’m often shocked and conflicted when I see my sin. I never intended to disobey God, hurt others, or myself when I make a bad choice or spoke too harshly. Sometimes my sins are outright premeditated offenses, but most often I didn’t take the time to weigh my motives, my heart. I became too consumed with my own thoughts and feelings to consider how I was affecting the people around me, how I was offending God. We all do this. It’s only natural since we are constantly inundated with our own thoughts, our own feelings, but just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean we have to settle.
Yesterday I read Deuteronomy 15 where God asks all Jews to cancel all debts every seven years. God didn’t want there to be any poor among his people, so He basically required money-lenders to release their debtors from anything owed, to wipe the slate clean. This sounds like a good deal for the borrower, but what about the money-lender?
What if God asked me to give my money away? Would I resent the guy who got off? Would I feel robbed, or stolen from by not only God, but also by the borrower? And then, as if cancelling the debt wasn’t enough, God says, “If there is a poor man…do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend to him whatever he needs. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought, ‘The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,’ so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.”
Really? God is asking me to not only give my money away to others, but to be cheerful about it? The Bible is so blunt when diagnosing our sin. The Lord knew what would happen in the hearts of the money-lenders, so he warned them not to become bitter, but God did not ask them to obey without a promise. If they were faithful, He would bless them in all their work and everything they put their hands to.
In other words, God knew some people would have the personality and drive to make it in business, to succeed financially. He promised to bless them in their abilities and their work, but he wanted them to consider how they may also love and provide generously for the other Jews, their brothers and sisters. Every year, they had to trust God was their Provider cancelling any debts owed.
This is no easy concept. God is asking them to give their money away, to not hold the people they have loaned to responsible. They had to hope and trust in the reciprocal generosity of a God they’d never seen.
I most often sin when I don’t trust God has my best interest at heart--when I feel like He doesn’t hear or see me, or when I’m afraid He won’t take care of my needs. However, like the money-lenders, my challenge is to look past myself to see and hear the needs of those around me. Somehow, all the while, trust God will meet mine. When I look past myself to trust God, it nullifies my desire/reason to sin.