Jeff Weddle | @Anti_Itcher
I am a father of three children. Over the years of their lives I have witnessed many of their sins. Some were pretty bad. Others were, don’t tell them, pretty funny. One of their major sins has been, and is, their constant annoyance of each other.
It gets a little ridiculous. “Stop it!” must be said in my house 1,364 times a day. Eventually, their mother and I get worn down. We don’t want to hear “stop it!” any more. The kid who says “stop it!” the 1, 365th time will get in trouble.
“Stop it!” My wife will yell in all serious irony. “Stop bugging each other.”
After, days, nay, weeks, nay, months of kids yelling “stop it!” all the time, I got discouraged. I must be a bad father. So, any time I feel like my parenting is failing, I sit my kids down for a lecture.
“Kids, listen up. Have you guys ever noticed that saying ‘stop it’ actually draws more attention to you? Usually the one who says ‘stop it’ gets in trouble. If you could learn to annoy each other and yet actually stop before someone has to say ‘stop it,’ you could get away with a lot more. I don’t understand how you haven’t figured out how to annoy each other in a way that your mom and I don’t notice. What is wrong with you? You have to be more subtle about being annoying, otherwise you all just get in trouble. Work the system. Do this when mom and I aren’t looking. And be quiet! Just be quiet and you can get away with so much more.”
They nodded their head in agreement. “We’ll try to work the system better, dad. Sorry we let you down.”
Unfortunately, this lecture was delivered a few weeks ago and “Stop it!” still echoes through our hallway daily.
When I was a kid, I learned the all important lesson of how to sin when no one was looking. I learned to work the system. I learned to melt into the background and subtly do my sinning. I was pure genius.
The best time to sin is when no one is looking. If no one is looking, you won’t get caught, and then you won’t get punished. It’s foolproof.
John Lennon once told us to imagine there was no hell below us. So, go ahead and imagine there’s no hell. He said it was easy, so you have no excuse.
If there were no punishment for your sin, if there were no consequences in this life or the life to come, if no one was looking, would you sin more? If you could “get away with it,” would sin even bother you?
I think this is an interesting question. If your answer is “Well, yeah, I’d probably sin more,” you are missing something huge in Christian doctrine.
The huge thing you are missing is this thing called “love.” Although punishment can certainly be a deterrent in sin, it’s not God’s main motivator. Love is.
If you know who God is, you will see that He loves you. Paul tells us in Romans 2:4 that “the goodness of God leads us to repentance.”
People use all manner of things to try to defeat sin. Many of those tactics rely on pride or selfishness. We get ourselves to stop sinning because it’s expensive, it’s embarrassing to get caught. Sin might ruin our carefully crafted reputation. Much of my sin-avoidance in life was based on simple fear—I was too chicken! Too worried I’d break a bone or get caught.
Love should play a part in our battle against sin. Our love for God and for His pleasure should motivate us. We know His love for us—while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We know sin doesn’t fit with love.
Lack of love for God is one main reason people sin.
In the end, I want my kids to listen to me. I don’t want them to sin (my lecture at the top of the article was facetious, by the way). I want my kids to love each other. I want them to love me. Obviously I want them to love the Lord. If this kind of love can dominate their lives, sin will take a serious hit.
Next time sin comes knocking, remember God’s love for you and your love for Him. Sin doesn’t fit into this love. Let your love for Christ motivate more of your life and when it comes to sin: Stop it!
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome. For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:3,4
Jeff Weddle is the husband of one wife and father of three kids. He is pastor of Rhinelander Bible Church in Rhinelander, WI. He enjoys reading, writing, guitaring, and although he does not enjoy running, he tends to do that a lot, too. You can contact him on Twitter at @anti_itcher or at his blog: AntiItchMeditation.wordpress.com.