It often seems like we Christians like our sins big and in other people. Something you can point at. But, I think, more often than not, that's not how sin works. More often than not, sins are small, the kinds of things we can shrug off, that we can pretend we don't see anything wrong with. Oh, and most of the sins I see aren't someone else's - they're mine.
I've been thinking about some of the 'little sins' lately, the ones we do every day, ignoring the very real effect they have on our hearts.
1. Being obnoxious. People who follow Jesus are called to only speak what "is good for building up" and gives "grace to those who hear" (Eph 4:29). We're to be known for our gentleness (Phil 4:5), not our snark. We're called to love, and "love is not arrogant or rude" (1 Cor 13:4-5). Are our words building people up and giving grace, or are they accomplishing something very different? Words matter, even the little remarks.
2. Always having to get your way. 1 Corinthians 13, again, says it: love does not insist on its own way (13:5). Or, as Paul puts it elsewhere: consider others more important than yourself (Phil 2:3). That's the example of Jesus. Many of us don't think or care to give others consideration at all - much less to consider them more important than ourselves. And it might only be in little ways... but that doesn't mean we don't need to reorient our hearts.
3. Not listening. James said it pretty clearly: "Everyone [everyone!] must be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (1:19). I saw something of Facebook, that fount of all wisdom, recently that said one of the world's problems is people who listen to respond instead of listening to understand. We've probably all be on both ends of that. But what if Christians actually took time to hear people?
4. Always having to get the newest thing. This is a way of life in the United States. We're a nation of upgrades - upgrading our Kindles, our phones, our cars, our homes. Constantly. The biblical term for that hunger for the latest and the best and more is "coveting." One of the Ten Commandments is against coveting (Ex 20:17); according to Paul, covetousness is a form of idolatry (Col 3:5). Things can get a hold on our heats! (Isn't that what Jesus is saying in Matthew 6:21?)
Pastor Mike Slaughter recently asked, "instead of giving up chocolate this Lenten season, why not make a commitment to give up being a jerk?" Not a bad thought. If you want to give up something this season, why not pick one of those "little" things that is corrosive to our souls, that, if we did give it up for just 40 days, might bring some more joy into the lives of the people around us?
And at the end of 40 days, you may find you've developed some new, better, more faithful habits.