If you’ve ever heard Riley Grace say anything, then it’s probably one of four things: “Daddy”, “Momma”, “Dog”, or “Uh-oh”. These are her favorite words, and she says them ALL the time. She has become quite the talkative little girl. She’s always chattering about something. If you continue to talk to her and ask questions, she will continue to respond in her 21-month babble with partial words, barks, and “choo-choos”. It’s truly precious! I love talking back and forth with her.
She had been on a kick for a while of saying “uh-oh” about everything. She learned this word as Patrick or I would say it after something fell on the floor or after she fell down. Now that she has heard us repeat the word over again for things that happen on accident, she has (kinda) learned when to say it. Now, she doesn’t quite understand the exact context of when to say it. For example, if something accidently drops to the floor, she says “uh-oh”. However, when she intentionally throws something on the floor, like her baby doll or her food at the dinner table, she also says “uh-oh”. Her little mind doesn’t fully grasp it yet, but we are trying to help her understand the difference between something that’s an accident verses something that is intentional. Therefore, for now, Riley Grace and I have two different definitions of uh-oh. I would use it when something happens on accident. She uses it in any instances where something falls down, whether accidentally or purposefully. One big issue (side note) is that I think it’s funny when she does this. Her cheesy grin is so cute. I usually wonder, “How in the world does she already know how to try to manipulate this situation?! She knows what she’s doing is wrong, but she is trying to test our reaction by grinning and being cute!”
From this illustration, I want to move into an unpopular topic that the Lord recently laid upon my heart…sin. I think Riley Grace is really cute. However, the sinful motivation behind her actions is not. Sin is ugly. Sin is not fun to discuss. Sin is messy. Sin is a serious offense against a holy God. And sin is a natural inclination of our human nature. In Psalm 141:4, the psalmist prays the following words: “Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!” The psalmist is aware that we are naturally inclined to do what is evil because of our sinful nature; therefore, he prays to guard against being drawn to evil things. Sin is a big deal, no matter how small the sin is, because sin is what separates us from God. Offending the God of the universe (which is what we do each time we sin) is a BIG deal. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is not an "uh-oh".
Even at Riley Grace’s young age, she is sinful. She tests the limits. For example, she is very aware that she is not supposed to toss food off of her tray while she is eating. She is aware of that boundary, and yet she tests it. It never fails that while she is eating supper, she will stare at us, hold a piece of food out over the tray, and wait. This action shows us that she is aware that she is contemplating something that Daddy and Mama have instructed her not to do. Sometimes she’ll put the food back on her tray and grin; other times, she will toss it down and say “uh-oh” and grin (even though it was on purpose so it can’t be classified as an “uh-oh”!). Either way, this action is sinful because she knows the expectation and she’s testing the limits.
Fallen: No Denying It
We are fallen people, and there’s no denying it. It is common for people to comment that children are “innocent” and “pure”, but actually they are not. As humans, we are each born with a sinful nature because we live in a world that is fallen and tainted by sin. Spend one day (or maybe just one hour!) recording your thoughts, words, and actions, and you’ll be painfully aware of how your heart and mind are inclined toward sinful things (whether it be a bad attitude, a nasty word, a white lie, or something else). Hopefully, the more we are in Christ, the less our hearts and minds are inclined toward sinful things. Ephesians 2:1-3 states it very plainly: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” The hope in this verse is found in verse three, which says that this is the way in which we “once lived”. If we are in Christ, then there is hope that we will not live in this sinful lifestyle any longer! Of course, in this fallen world, we will not live lives that are sin-free, but we can choose godliness over sinfulness more and more.
Fallen: A Little Attitude
The first kind of sin that we are inclined to commit is the intentional kind. One intentional sin (that has become second nature to me over the years) is my bad attitude. If something doesn’t go my way or I think something is unfair, my negative or disrespectful attitude comes to the forefront of my response to people or to the situation. I can picture my dad asking me over and over again, “Do you have a little attitude with me?” (We would joke with him that he’d run the words together, so it would come out as “li-attitude” instead of “little attitude”.) Of course, I was sooooo sure that I did not have an attitude, especially in my wonderful teen years. Little did I know, my bad attitude was plastered all over my face, complete with my smirk, eye-rolling, and disrespectful body language. (Sorry, Dad!) Now that I am married, Patrick and I have had many conversations about how these elements of my bad attitude negatively affect constructive communication. If I already have a sarcastic smirk or disrespectfully roll my eyes, then our conversation is destined to go nowhere really fast because from the beginning, Patrick can see that my heart is inclined toward evil thoughts and actions. This kind of sin is intentional. By sinning in this way, I am hoping to communicate my disapproval of some element of what was said or done by someone else, and I want to “get my point across” so that they “get what they deserve” because I certainly am not in the wrong. Sound like a bad attitude to you?
Fallen: Unaware, but Responsible
The second kind of sin that we can commit is the unintentional kind. Even if there is a sin that we are committing and we are not plotting and planning in our mind to commit it before it happens, it is still sin. When I was in grad school, there was a situation with a friend that I handled very badly. In an attempt to follow something I felt the Lord leading me to do, I communicated my point to this friend in a very unloving way. At the time, my intention was never to hurt this person. Looking back on the situation, I am deeply regretful of how I handled the situation. I still believe that the Lord did communicate a clear message to me of what should be communicated to this friend. However, the way in which the message was communicated was very unloving and harsh, and I am completely responsible for the hurt. I did not intentionally wish to hurt this friend, but I did. At the time, I was unaware that my actions were sinful, but they were. I am still responsible for this sin even though in my heart, I didn’t want to be hurtful or uncaring.
Fallen: Action and the Lack of Action
There is also another distinction that can be made regarding sin: sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are sins that we commit. They are thoughts, words, and actions that we commit that are contrary to God’s design for us. Then, there are sins of omission, which happen when we do not do something that God wants us to do. I commit a sin when I have a bad attitude. In this instance, there are several thoughts, words, and actions that I am committing. I also commit a sin when I neglect to share the truth of Jesus with others. This is something that I know God wants me to do, but I omit it from my daily life because it can be intimidating and uncomfortable.
Fallen: Responding to Your Sin
There are two ways we can respond to sin. We can ignore it or pretend that it didn’t happen (as in the instances where Riley Grace says “uh-oh” for a sinful action that she deliberately did), or we can recognize it in confession before the Father and repent. These two responses sound very simplistic, but they are far from that. It is never an easy thing to own up to our sin. It seems much easier to attempt to brush it under the rug so that it remains hidden from everyone. However, that is not entirely true. While we may be able to hide our sins from others and also convince ourselves that it’s not that bad, we can never hide it from our Maker. He knows the intentions of our hearts and minds, even without outward words or actions that reveal our sin.
1. EVALUATE: Evaluate your mindset toward sin. Do you take sin seriously? Do you tend to attempt to brush it off as “not a big deal” or “not that bad” or “not as bad as what someone else is doing”? The point is that our standard of sin vs. holiness is not what everyone else is doing. Rather, the standard in our pursuit of holiness is the standard that the Lord has laid out in His Word.
2. READ: Take some time to read, meditate on, and pray though Psalm 51 and Psalm 139:23-24. Ask the Lord to give you a clean heart before Him.
3. PRAY: Ask the Lord to reveal areas in which you struggle with regards to sin (intentional, unintentional, sins of commission, sins of omission). You may already be aware of them! Ask Him to give you His attitude toward sin, so that you will hate sin and long to pursue holiness in order to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
4. REPENT: Repent of the sins that the Lord reveals to you.
I pray that you will find freedom from the sins that so easily entangle you and hold you in bondage (Hebrews 12:1-2). The Lord does NOT desire for us to be held captive to our sin (Romans 6:6). The Bible even describes sin as slavery (Galatians 5). We may think that we’re enjoying the sin, but we’re actually enslaved to that sin. Our loving Father wants us to walk in freedom in the Spirit. If we ignore our sin, then we won’t be healed from it. I pray that we will be bold enough to confront our sin, ask the Lord to cleanse us, and plead with Him to give us the self-discipline to resist the things that tempt us (Colossians 3). I also pray that He will cause our hearts to long for holiness in a much deeper way that we could ever imagine (1 Thessalonians 4, Hebrews 12:14). Let’s pray to have a clean heart before Him!