During my college days in one of our Southern Baptist schools, my Biblical studies professor was asked about Matthew 5:27-28.
As Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount, one of my fellow classmates asked the unnerving question on the famed statement, “Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart.” A soft-spoken freshman woman boldly asked, “Does that mean the act of adultery in our heart is as bad as adultery in the bed?” His reply was “All sin is the same before God, but all sin has not the same consequences. Adultery in our head involves one. Adultery in the bed involves three others – your spouse, the partner in adultery and the other spouse.”
We try to categorize sins, don’t we? The big game is, “Your sin is bigger than my sin, thus, we feel better about self.” The person who lies thinks he is better off than the thief who steals and goes to jail. We look at the person who is divorced, yet the attractive vain woman feels better about herself because she was never divorced. Our self esteem allows us to find bigger sinners than ourselves. We demote others while propping up self.
The slightest sin hurts the heart of God. I don’t think we understand the holy nature of God. Comparing human sins in God’s presence is like comparing two buckets of water to the Pacific Ocean or one apple to a fully loaded tree. Comparing this sin to that sin to the holiness of God is unthinkable.
We Baptists have a short list of sins. Pentecostals have a long list of sins, while our Methodist brethren are somewhere between the extremes and Episcopalians hardly have a list at all. We get into some odd situations when we start ranking sins.
We Baptists think it’s all right just as long as “we don’t do the big sins.” We often prop up our self-worth because we think we can find a bigger sinner than us. Thus, we demote someone else.
Comparing my sin to your sin is ridiculous. We cannot imagine the justice of God and His mercy. Let’s stop the comparison game. There are some sins in Jackson, some sins in Tupelo and some sins in Amory. However, they are still in the same state.
1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”