Pastoral Perspectives

CONTAGIOUS SINNER

During our recent  family trip,  we decided to help around the house and did some gardening. I was pulling out the weeds when my god-mother came and said “You might want to take note of that particular weed. You will notice that as you pull out the roots, you might be actually scattering the seeds.” I was surprised as I had never seen anything like that before. How ingenious that in pulling it out, it does the opposite on a much larger scale! The roots were littered with seeds and true enough, when I pulled the weed out, the seeds fell to the ground. There was no way I could find all the small seeds that had fallen into the ground. I was instantly reminded of how this is also true of our sins. Jim Owen says “Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling, disquieting. But if left alone, if not continually mortified, it will bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins.”

Two Sundays ago, Dr Solomon reminded us from Matthew 12:43 that what is emptied must be filled. As believers, we are constantly reminded to be filled with the Spirit and that Christ may dwell in our hearts. The word of God in Colossians 3:1-17 reminds us what we ought to be doing with the sins of the past. Here, Paul encourages the believers in Colossae to make a decisive break with the sinful tendencies they were carrying in their Christian lives. Paul lists out what they must get rid of (v 5-11)

They are to get rid of:

  1. sexual immorality
  2. impurity
  3. lust
  4. evil desire
  5. covetousness
  6. anger
  7. rage
  8. malice
  9. slander
  10. filthy talk
  11. lying
  12. arrogance*
    *I put arrogance here because what is implied in v12 is that in Christ, all are equal and united. None is superior than the other; whether Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free.

If we look at the list of things mentioned above, they take place in the context of community and with each other. It may breed in the mind of an individual but once executed, it is always acted out on others. For eg., slandering someone (making a false statement about someone, damaging their reputation) involves a person saying something to another person. The person who hears it will have a tainted image of the person and might eventually spread the false accusation. The person at the receiving end might hear of it and eventually cause a rift among many people. Perhaps this is the reason why Haggai 2:10-14 reminds us that that sin is contagious but that righteousness is not.

We could sin as a result of bad company or we could be sin-carriers, making us contagious sinners. Mark 9:42 warns us that if someone causes others to sin, ‘it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.’ I remember that when my kids were younger and in their diapers, if I smell something fishy, I would quickly check their diapers and if I find the source of the stench, I would immediately look for a place to change the diaper. The problem with sin is that it doesn’t come with a warning sign or a pungent smell like that. Instead, it often comes in the most tempting and enticing way, sometimes laced with sugar and pleasure. We know that if we try to get rid of sin on our own, we would never succeed because the Bible says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 6:23). God knows this full well and therefore, because of His great love for us, while we were yet sinners, Christ  died for us and took away the penalty of our sins  (Rom 5:8) so that we might live victorious lives in Him. It does not mean that we become saints overnight but that in Him, through our obedience to His word, we can over come and live a life that is pleasing, to the praise of His glory.

Therefore, when we leave behind our sinful ways with God’s help, we can ‘put on virtues’ that signifies new life in Christ just as Paul encourages the Colossians, as God’s holy and beloved children to put on these new virtues (vs 12-17)

  1. compassion
  2. kindness
  3. humility
  4. gentleness
  5. patience
  6. binding all the virtues with love
  7. bearing with one another
  8. forgiving one another
  9. letting the peace of Christ rule in their hearts
  10. being thankful
  11. letting the words of Christ dwell in us richly as they minister to people
  12. doing everything in the name of the Lord

As it is with sin, all the virtues shown above is executed in the context of community. For eg., showing compassion involves one another. We show compassion to others, specially to those who are weaker than us. I recently heard the story of a convict who stumbled into a cafe. The owner showed compassion and simply offered him food. This act moved the heart of the convict to eventually come to know Christ. The Bible records for us on numerous occasion when Jesus showed compassion.

If we claim to be a child of God, we must get rid of anything that brings us back to our old sinful ways. If we are known by our vices and not virtues, it is an indication that we have yet to put death, the sinful ways. If those around us, specially family members can see a change in our attitude and behaviour for the better, we can be sure that there is transformation.

May God grant us strength with power through His spirit in our inner-being so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith and make us contagious Christians.


Pr Loliro Sani

July 29, 2018