Humility and the Marks of Old Sin

I left at comment over at Deep Strength’s blog, just something that came to me… and it didn’t make sense to the people reading it, so I’m going to flesh it out here.

When I look in the mirror, I see the reflection of a lot of sin – and some happenstance.  I carry the weight of too many seasons in life where I used food to get me through … and then didn’t clean up my mess after the season was over.  I carry the weight of too many seasons where sloth was my bosom companion, whether because of fear (long story) or pain or simple inconvenience.

Although I am neither particularly slothful or gluttonous *today*, I still wear the consequences of those sins.  At 42, it takes a *lot* of work to get fat off of my body.  I can’t just stop eating too much and poof, it goes away.  So I wear my sin for all to see.  And it’s embarrassing.  Very embarrassing, some days.

But this isn’t about me… except that the thought that came was, “perhaps this embarrassment at old sins that I’ve repudiated is to teach me compassion to other folks, folks who wear their old sins on their shirtsleeves”.   I think of the ex-gangbanger, who has tattoos up his neck… do I treat him differently, even when I meet him at church, than I would someone cleaner cut?  How about the lady whose face is caved in from doing meth?  She’s clean now, but her face isn’t going to fill in and look normal.  Do I treat her the same way I treat someone who looks like me?  What about the person who doesn’t speak standard English, or who struggles with swearing?

How do I treat my siblings in Christ, what assumptions do I make about them based on their outsides?

A commenter said, “But what about the fruit of redemption”?  Which was my point.  I know other religions where there is no redemption from sin, and the good news of the Gospel has always been that you can be new in Christ.

And that WAS my point.  Being forgiven from sin is one thing.  Turning away and repenting is another thing.  But having been repentant is only the first step.  It takes a lot of work to clean up the mess of sin – sometimes a lifetime of work.

And so I feel both more compassionate to those around me and more convicted of the need to work on the remnants of my own sin.  If my life is here to glorify God, then my witness matters.  And if I’m witnessing His all-consuming power and grace in Southern California, well… maybe it would be better if I didn’t feel apologetic about the body I happen to inhabit.  Since I feel apologetic about what I did to it, and not the stuff that just happened… maybe I should work harder.

Because if gluttony and sloth are really “real sins”, then I *should* feel sorrow about what I’ve done.  Just like drug use.  Just like violence.  Just like … anything else.  And just like anything else, when I’ve repented and been forgiven and turned away, I can stop feeling the weight of the guilt and just feel sorry for the side effects.  And just like all of that, maybe I can work a little harder about cleaning those consequences up.  Yeah, it sucks that I have to work harder to get back to “normal” than someone who didn’t slip – and it is entirely true that I *do* have to work harder  – but that’s just what it is.

Sin has consequences.  Redemption is a new beginning, and we don’t need to weigh *anyone* down with the “I’ll never be enough” nonsense – will we not all receive a new body with no tendencies to *any* sin nature when we’re with Christ? – but redemption doesn’t mean you don’t have to mop up what was spilt.

So – today I received a dose of humility, in my heart and not just in my head.  Thanks DS!  And thank you, Lord … always.

8 thoughts on “Humility and the Marks of Old Sin

  1. Elspeth

    Totally expected this to generate some robust conversation, and I have a lot of thoughts about it. In fact I think I will ponder a bit more, write it down, then come back, LOL.

    1. hearthie Post author

      As long as it developed some conversation in my head… 🙂 But seriously, I always hope for robust conversation, but that isn’t my bloggy gift, I suppose.

  2. Maeve

    I have a lot of thoughts about this as well, but there’s something keeping me from responding and I’m not sure what it is. I seem to get a specific thought and then I go to type and it eludes me. Maybe I’m just supposed to shut up for a bit.

    Anyway great post and I’ll comment when I’m supposed to. Le Sigh

    1. hearthie Post author

      Y’all could move it to TC or email if you preferred? Of course I don’t know a *thing* about having the sock stuffed in my mouth and not being allowed to talk when I want to. -blinks eyes innocently- Never happens. -sagenod-

    1. hearthie Post author

      This: “So while I am not so quick to embrace the idea that personal health is the highest moral good, I will contend it is a moral good. We have a moral responsibility to care for this vessel God’s given us.” Yes.

      1. Maeve

        Her prior post is good too and there are some very good comments – particularly this one:

        “I do not believe that ignoring the health hazards of being obese OR emaciated is a good idea…I DO believe that many modern people are way too outspoken and rude to those who have weight problems. Do we only befriend people who are healthy and meet some sort of weight standard? Do we reject people based upon how they look? Seriously? How superficial…how smug! My own opinion is that it is MOST important to remember that each human being has crosses to bear…some are visible and some aren’t…we are to love one another as Christ loves us…shoving fat people away from us in disgust is as far from being Christ-like as we can get….magazine models needn’t be waifs…obese women and men shouldn’t be excluded from view ….pompous self-righteousness needs to give way to real Christian love for one another.”

        (again – it’s sort-of-related-ish,)

      2. hearthie Post author

        -like- That’s part of the point I was making – we judge people on the leftovers of their sins, not whether or not they’re currently in sin. It will be a long time for her (and I) before the leftovers are gone, it’s a long hard walk at our age.

        So – how do I treat other people with leftovers of sin? People who aren’t externally perfect? Who have “stuff”? What about Christianity as the religion of redemption, of a second chance, of forgiveness?

        Of COURSE we want to be without sin – out and in – but being human, it’s a lot easier to be a whitewashed tomb than to have cleaned out (most) of the inside of the house and still have work to do outside.

        I am reminded of the admonishment that Christians are known by the love we have for the brethren. That’s not tolerating sin, but it is helping people where they are, and where they’re starting from… not where we’d like them to be.

        Which includes my waistline – which is at the point where I really internalized it (not intellectualized it) as a leftover of sin. I turned to food to cope with being exhausted and sad and entitled. I let fear live in my heart after the proper occasion to avoid activity had gone away. So I wear that, and I have to get my body back in shape from that and it’s not easy.

        Call me to account AND love me. Can we not do both for all of our sibs?

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