As I reported last week the Young Adult Reading Group discussed sin for several months. Each meeting they shared their ideas about a topic or two, such as lying on a resume and euthanasia. At the end of the sessions, they wanted to discuss ways for handling sin. My background paper follows. You can check their discussion in the first comment below.
RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT HANDLING SIN
1. Remember righteousness is not so much doing what is right as being in the right relationship with other persons. It is more important to deal appropriately with the person in front of you than in taking a proper position about theoretical issues.
2. Jesus is speaking of this when he says the greatest commandment is really two: love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and your neighbor as yourself. When we say this summarizes all of the law, we are going beyond actions to the underlying relationship. So Jesus can say anger is just as bad in some ways as murder.
3. Notice this relationship involves loving three persons: God, neighbor, and yourself. Handling sin begins with loving yourself. If you love yourself in a healthy manner, you are going to be able to deal appropriately with other people as well.
4. This includes trusting Jesus when he proclaims God loves you. Very often it is harder to accept love than to give it.
5. Remember the New Testament defines love as not insisting on your own way and returning good for evil. It always includes special care for the weak. The Last Judgment is based on giving food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting the imprisoned.
6. Handling sin means accepting forgiveness as an essential part of life. Christian life continually offers second chances. Jesus speaks of forgiveness as seventy times seven times. We always need to recover, so we can continue to live for God. Forgiveness is the way to make an enemy a friend. Again, because accepting God’s forgiveness is often more difficult than offering forgiveness to another, it is wise to remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
7. In our affluent society we should always be asking, “How much is enough?” Trusting God means we do not need to be endlessly anxious about tomorrow.
8. And finally, we should remember Jesus was especially disgusted with hypocrites and was constantly accused of spending too much time with sinners.
Lutherans acknowledge we all are saints and sinners who must practice repentance daily. To repent is to change our hearts and minds so we are able to change our actions. The Church has traditionally broken this down into 1) penance- feeling guilt and sorrow, 2) confession- orally acknowledging our sins to another person, 3) absolution- receiving forgiveness from the other person in the name of Jesus, and 4) satisfaction- taking some practical action to express the change.