When I grew up, I had a clear idea what sin was. If the Bible, my pastor or my parents thought something was a sin – it was a sin!
So, what do you think of when you hear the word “sin?”
It’s probably adultery, cheating, stealing – the obvious violations of God’s moral laws. In traditional Christian morality, it’s the understanding that we all have something broken in us. What’s broken is not always something dark and depraved. St. Augustine had a more profound definition of sin.
He said we sin when, “we have our loves out of order.” Think about that for a moment. We sin when our loves are out of order.
David Brooks, has this take on Augustine in his new book, The Road to Character;
We all love lots of things. We love family, we love money, we love a little affection, status, truth. And we all know that some of our loves are higher than others, or ought to be. We know that our love of family is higher, or should be higher, than our love of money.
Under this definition, sinning doesn’t have to be a life-altering event or a long-developed scheme. Sin can occur even in the most relatable, everyday settings.
For example, if a friend tells you a secret and you blab it at a dinner party, you’re putting your love of popularity above your love of friendship. And we know that’s wrong. Your love is out of order.
If we say we love our family more than anything, but are working 60 hours a week for a lifestyle, our loves are out of order.
The love for virtue should be higher than our love of money. But if we’re lying, or exaggerating at our vocation to get more money, then our loves are out of order.
Ranking our loves That’s why Brooks suggests people take the time to examine their “loves” and literally rank them from high to low. Well, how does that work?
It’s useful to sit down and just ask yourself, “What should I love and in what order should I love them?” Rank them from the most important, down to the least.
Then right next to the first list, make another, writing down the things you really love – those you’re really passionate about – where you’re spending most of your time and energy. Rank them from greatest to least as well. Now compare the lists. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll find that your loves are out of order.
Ask your spouse this question if you dare. “Honestly, tell me what you think are the top five ‘loves’ of my life and in what order would you rank them?”
Do you spend more time on social media than talking to your children or your spouse? Your loves are out of order.
“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware,” Luke 21:34
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
How following Jesus works in real life.
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