Blessed… Unequal Sins

 “Therefore, I tell you that people will be forgiven for every sin and insult to God. But insulting the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Human One will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven, not in this age or in the age that is coming (Matthew 12:31-32, Common English Bible).

A few years ago, I would quickly tell you that to God, a sin is a sin. Just as the old adage about chains and weakest links, any of those rusty links can bring us down.

The problem is, I would argue, we want to equate sin with crime. We think that just as there are greater and lesser crimes, there are greater and lesser sins. After all, we think logically, accidentally (or even purposefully) taking a pen from work isn’t as bad as say, stealing someone’s car. These two aren’t just not in the same ballpark, they aren’t in the same league.  The car, if we are caught, will send us to prison. The pen, even if our boss knows, there is a pretty good chance he/she won’t even care.

Surely, the logic goes, God can’t possibly see the two are the same. Both, however, share something in common. They both commit the sin of stealing. Though they are absolutely different levels of crime, as sin, they are probably equal in the eyes of God. The reasoning continued, if this is true, then in the eyes of God, all sin is sin.

Well, that was my logic and I know I preached such, more than once in my career. Then one day a couple of years ago, I was watching a worship service on television. When the preacher (I didn’t know) read the text, it was today’s lesson. He made the argument in his sermon that sin is not sin. There are differences. Then he got specific. He pointed at this lesson and said (I paraphrase) “If this sin cannot be forgiven, it stands to reason that this sin is a worse sin than others.” When I heard it, at least at first, I scoffed. I thought the guy didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. I now think I was wrong.

The more I thought about the preacher’s argument the more I thought, “He has a real point. One sin is not like another.” My apologies to those I told differently over the years. But, I am convinced our beliefs and understandings go through changes in life as God brings more light to our understandings.

As I continued to think about this new idea, one day, as I was having my devotional time I read the story of Jesus being asked about the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:26-40, CEB). My logic moved forward to think, “If Jesus said that to love is the greatest commandment, it stands to reason that violating the greatest commandment would be a greater sin than most of the other sins we commit (with the exception of the one that can’t be forgiven).”

You might ask if there are other sins that rank above. My answer becomes, “I don’t know.” The best advice I have is, leave it alone. If we work to stay away from sin, we will be better for effort.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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