Is it a mistake, or is it a sin? Does it really matter? Yes, it does. A mistake is not necessarily a sin, but sin is never just a mistake. It’s not popular these days to talk about the difference between the two, and it’s even less popular to deal with our own sin. I do notice; however, it’s still pretty popular to discuss other people’s sin. Some people do so at great length. For the sake of this week’s blog, let’s keep the focus on ourselves.
A mistake is when you accidentally add baking powder instead of baking soda to a recipe or work out a math problem to the wrong answer. You can call it a mistake If you miss a typo in an email, or drop your phone in the washing machine. Yes, even if you hit the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal and plough into a window, it could still be categorised as a mistake. A mistake is when you clumsily step on a person’s toe or mix their coffee order. We might feel bad when we make a mistake, but we don’t need God’s forgiveness. We might need his help to navigate through the natural consequences of our mistake.
However, we do need God’s forgiveness on top of his help if we are to clean up the mess we made when we sin.
Sin is when you deliberately choose to do wrong, and it always begins with a selfish decision. “I deserve to have my perceived need met, and I will make sure that need is met in the easiest way possible, even at the detriment of others or myself. Therefore I can eat that entire box of cookies; I can lust after my neighbour. I can cheat on my taxes, I can manipulate my husband, and I can lie about a mistake I made, so I don’t have to clean up my mess.”
“I am not getting the results I want; therefore I can be rude to the teller at the bank, I can cut off that guy in traffic, and I can yell at my kids when I’m actually angry with my boss. I can resent the person who gets more limelight than I do, and I can deliberately hold back information that would further their career because they aren’t very kind to me.”
“I don’t want to take responsibility for the consequences of my actions. Therefore I will lie, misdirect, lay the blame on others, and expect someone else to clean up my mess.”
Don’t pull out the ‘mistake’ card when you know your actions stem from a deliberate self-driven sinful motivation. Call sin a sin. There is no shame in admitting you sinned; there is only freedom! Jesus died for our sins, there is forgiveness at the Cross, and there is nothing we repent from that will not be covered by His blood. His forgiveness, combined with his grace, gives us the strength and courage to face those we hurt as we offer restitution when necessary.
Sin or mistake, there is good news! God’s grace and forgiveness are available to those who ask for them. Jesus’s sacrifice purchased pardon for our sins. God’s lovingkindness is there to help us clean up when we honestly make a mistake. He makes beautiful things from the ashes of our lives, no matter what circumstances created those ashes. God’s empowering grace gives us the strength to clean up our messes, take accountability for our actions, and move on.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2020 Katherine Walden