In John 8, a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus for judgment. When Jesus said to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”, the scribes and Pharisees were convicted by their conscience and departed one by one. They too were guilty of sins in their lives, the most obvious being the sin of partiality, for they had caught the woman in adultery in the very act, but where was the man? What prompted this case of “the pot calling the kettle black”? Perhaps they saw themselves as being more respectable than the sinful woman (c.f. Luk 18:11-12). Or perhaps they saw their sins as being more respectable than the woman’s sin (c.f. Mat 23:27-28). The problem with sin is that it is deceitful and we can become desensitised to the extent of becoming accepting or even respecting it (Heb 3:13), the more people that are involved in the same sin (Mat 7:13), and the longer the sin stays undetected or unchecked (Ecc 8:11). In this article, we shall examine some sins that Christians are susceptible to and tolerate, which are often coated with a veneer of respectability.
Selfishness is a sin that hinders us from loving others (2Ti 3:2-4), and causes us to be hated (Pro 11:26). Yet, selfishness is sometimes tolerated or even respected by Christians under the guise of being prudent. Some justify their selfishness in helping others as “saving for a rainy day”, yet they are ever so willing to splurge on expensive tastes and luxurious holidays. We read of the example of the selfishness of Nabal disguised as prudence (1Sa 25:11), but he was referred to as a scoundrel and a fool (1Sa 25:17,25). Instead of giving respect to the sin of selfishness and finding excuses, we need to overcome this sin by loving others as ourselves (Gal 5:13-14). Are we guilty of the sin of selfishness – do we love in word, or do we love in deed (1Jo 3:18)?
Covetousness is a sin that hinders us from loving God (1Jo 2:15), and causes us to lose our heavenly inheritance (Eph 5:5). Yet, covetousness is sometimes tolerated or even respected by Christians under the guise of being driven. Some justify their covetousness in hankering after materialistic wants as “providing a better life for the family”, yet they do not have the same drive in providing a better spiritual environment for the family. We read of the example of the covetousness of the rich fool disguised as drive (Luk 12:18-19), but he was referred to as a fool (Luk 12:20). Instead of giving respect to the sin of covetousness and finding excuses, we need to overcome this sin by being content with what we have been so richly blessed with (Heb 13:5). Are we guilty of the sin of covetousness – do we serve God, or do we serve riches (Luk 16:13)?
Laziness is a sin that hinders us from being good stewards of the talents that God has given to us (1Pe 4:10), and causes us to suffer want (Pro 19:15). Yet, laziness is sometimes tolerated or even respected by Christians under the guise of being humble. Some justify their laziness in serving God with the excuse that “others can do a better job than me”. We read of the example of the laziness of the one-talent man disguised as humility (Mat 25:24-25), but he was referred to as wicked, lazy, and unprofitable (Mat 25:26,30). Instead of giving respect to the sin of laziness and finding excuses, we need to overcome this sin by appreciating how much God has done for us in contrast to the little that we have done for Him (1Co 15:9-10). Are we guilty of the sin of laziness – do we talk big, or do we walk the talk (Pro 14:23)?
Stubbornness is a sin that hinders us from submitting to authority (2Pe 2:10), and causes us to repeat our mistakes (Pro 26:11-12). Yet, stubbornness is sometimes tolerated or even respected by Christians under the guise of being independent. Some justify their stubbornness in submitting to authority with the excuse that “my character is like that”. We read of the example of the stubbornness of Saul disguised as independence (1Sa 13:12), but his persistent stubbornness was referred to as rebellion, iniquity, and idolatry (1Sa 15:23). Instead of giving respect to the sin of stubbornness and finding excuses, we need to overcome this sin by being humble and willing to submit (1Pe 5:5). Are we guilty of the sin of stubbornness – do we seek to please ourselves, or do we seek to please others (Rom 15:1-2)?
“Respectable” sins are like cancer, silent killers with subtle signs that are often overlooked and ignored until it is too late, leading to our destruction (Jas 1:14-15). James warns us that any sin will make us transgressors of God’s law, no matter what how man may label it (Jas 2:10-11). Just as we go for routine check-ups to guard against diseases, let us examine ourselves regularly (2Co 13:5), and remove these sins before they take root in our lives and defile us (Heb 12:15).