Have you ever noticed that whenever people are talking about evil they tend to use “murder” as a sort of “pinnacle of sin?” We compare our actions and responses to this imaginary bar we’ve set to make sure we are always OK.
The person caught stealing might say, “It’s not like I killed someone!”
The person who awkwardly crosses some social boundary often chuckles and says, “I’m not some kind of ax murderer.”
The person who offended someone else will roll their eyes and mutter, “Oh, they’ll live.”
As long as we compare well against what we’ve deemed the “worst” kind of person, we are doing just fine. We are in the clear if all our sin is the respectable sort.
What a strange idea. Until last Sunday, I never thought about it in those terms, but my actions reveal the sad truth that in my own mind, I’ve deemed some sin respectable. I doubt I’m alone in this. We are very quick to agree that no sin is too big for Jesus. Is it possible that we’ve subconsciously decided that some are too small for Him?
I don’t usually think of gluttony as a sin. It certainly isn’t a very serious one, right? I can always devise a reason to eat a little more than I should—I don’t want to waste food … It’s a celebration … I took the stairs at work … I don’t want to be rude … There’s not enough to save for lunch tomorrow.
At some point, I have to face the stark reality that when I overindulge it’s a symptom of my feeling that God isn’t enough. Gluttony’s underlying logic goes like this: I have to fill myself with tasty food because God doesn’t leave me satisfied.
The problem extends beyond gluttony. Little white lies, gossip, anxiety, greed—all of these sins have been disguised as tools as we fail to avoid them. We think small lies help us keep the peace. Gossip is just a way to share prayer requests, while anxiety is a mark of a caring parent or spouse; greed is nothing but the pursuit of happiness. It is human nature to trivialize sin and invite it to live with us, and one way we do this is comparing one sin to another “worse” sin.
I am guilty of all of these sins and more. But hey, it’s not like I killed anybody! Besides Jesus. Jesus was put to death to wash away sin with His blood. Every time I justify a sin by comparing it to murder, I am ironically ignoring the fact that even “respectable” sins would have required Jesus’ life to forgive. Jesus died for all sins, no matter how respectable I try to paint them, or how abhorrent I acknowledge them to be.
As you teach the session, “God Rejected Saul as King,” think through the way Saul justifies his sinful actions. Look for signs of those same rationalizations in your own life. Help your group of kids look at their own lives to find situations where they have begun to trivialize or even revere sin. Then point them (and yourself) back to Jesus, the God-man whose death makes liars out of anyone who says “I’ve never killed anyone” right before setting them free.
What about you? What are some “respectable” sins God has brought to your attention? What are ways you point yourself back to Jesus and repent? Leave a comment below!
Sam O’Neil is a Content Editor for The Gospel Project for Kids. Prior to working at LifeWay, he worked as a Family Resources Resident for The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. He now lives with his wife and dog in Nashville, TN and serves in the children’s ministry at Redemption City Church in Franklin, TN.