Monday, December 9, 2013

5 Everyday Sins That Stunt Spiritual Growth

When many of us think of sin, we think of big things: murder, adultery, perhaps idol worship. In our own minds we rank those sins up there as the big dogs. Unfortunately, when we make this type of distinction, we actually desensitize ourselves to the reality that we sin everyday in many different ways. Each of these sins are real sins which contain the power to separate us eternally from a holy God and required the sending of Jesus to sacrificially atone for at the cross. These sins, when not dealt with, can stunt the growth of a Christian, and will stand to condemn the unbeliever. 

In this post I want to highlight 5 common, everyday sins we need to be aware of, begin to identify in our lives, and repent from. 

1. Worry -- Everyone has worried at some point. Some people live in constant worry. Worry is a sin. At the root of worry is unbelief in the reality that God cares for His children and provides for them. Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 6 when he teaches that God sovereignly cares for the birds of the air, feeding them, and aware of their livelihood. He then concludes by asking, "How much more valuable are you than the birds?" Jesus' argument is that worry is silly. First, your God is sovereign over everything, including your life. He even knows the number of hairs on your head. Second, worry is the result of not knowing something or not being in control of something. When we recognize we are not in control of something, it can produce worry; however, this is where faith should be present. We should put our faith in the Lord, who knows all things and rules with power over them.

Confess that you are a worrier, admit that it is sin against God, and repent from worrying by placing complete trust of your life in God's hands, knowing He is good, wise, and powerful.

2. Loose Lips -- What do I mean by loose lips? A number of sins can emerge from loose lips: gossiping about others, slander, lying, and angry outbursts. All of these are examples of sins that flow from loose lips. James 3:5-6 speaks of the tongue being able to set fires. This is metaphoric for the great damage the tongue can do when not tamed. If we do not learn to tame our tongue, it can damage relationships, cause us trouble when angrily lash out at people, or lead us to lie our way out of accountability for things we have said or done. Many things on a daily basis come out of our mouths that are not glorifying to God or encouraging to people around us.

Confess that your mouth causes you problems, admit that it is sin against God, and repent by watching closely what things you speak and in what manner you speak them. Train yourself to ask the question: would I say this if Jesus were present with me in this room? (By the way, he is.)

3. Poor Stewardship -- This issue, like the last one, has multiple components that may be present. Poor stewardship is our mismanagement of all that God has given us. This manifest itself through mismanagement of our money, time, resources, and spiritual gifts. This may look like wasteful spending. It could look like failure to serve God with your gifts and talents. It may be failure to tithe your money to a local church as Scripture outlines. Or it could manifest itself in laziness. Maybe you complain about wanting to spend more time in the Word or prayer, but you waste countless hours on Facebook, Twitter, or Pintrest. Jesus tells the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) to remind us that he who manages well what he has been given, will be given more. Those who waste and squander will have what they've been given taken away. 

Confess that you have been guilty of poor stewardship, admit that it is sin against God, and repent by evaluating all the areas you have been given to steward (time, money, gifts, resources) and make the changes needed in these areas to bring them into alignment with God's will and Word.

4. Unforgiving -- Many sin daily by holding grudges against people and failing to forgive. Not forgiving others who have hurt us is sinful. Why? Because those who have been forgiving infinitely more by God Almighty, have no grounds or right to withhold forgiveness from others. No matter how wronged you have been, you still have not been sinned against the way each of us have sinned against a holy and perfect God. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 18 if we fail to forgive others, we will not be forgiven. It is that big of a deal. Many think forgiveness means reconciliation, but it is not (more about this here).  

Confess that you struggle with being unforgiving, admit that it is sin against God, and repent by taking your struggle to forgive to God, ask God to be your vindicator, and release the person or people who have hurt you by choosing to no longer let their actions hurt and define you. 

5. Lack of self-control -- One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control. This is not talked about a lot in church. There are not many books written on this subject. However, self-control or lack of it, is at the heart of many struggles people face. Whether it is our eating habits, exercise routines, how we dress, the way we represent ourselves on the internet, or many other issues, self-control is often at the heart of whether we're honoring God or sinning. Self-control helps us to be slow to act. It aides us from having to immediately give our opinion or saying things we will later regret. Self-control is important in a marriage. If there is a lack of self-control with one or both people, it can cause serious problems. This issue plays out in different ways with different people. 

Confess that you need more self-control, admit that it is sin against God, and repent by beginning to lean more heavily on the grace that God supplies when we seek Him in prayer for help in this area. Rely on the Spirit's power, available to all believers, to begin operating with more self-control in your life.

With all of these everyday sins, it can be helpful to enlist the help of a friend or loved one that can offer accountability and ask hard questions. With the grace of God, the forgiveness Christ offers, and the Spirit's power, we can labor to rid our lives of these issues. I believe our lives would look very different, and our spiritual growth would be noticeable, if we dealt with these common issues. I invite you to join me in making these issues a priority. 

This list is not exhaustive. If you can think of other everyday sins that you or others struggle with, list them in the comments below. 

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