Saving the Word Sin

sinI recently listened to a sermon that made an interesting comment. While this wasn’t the whole focus of the sermon the point was this: we’ve moved from a culture of confession of sins, to managing mistakes.

And I think this is true. We often no longer think of ourselves as “sinning” but instead we make a mistake. We made a poor choice, which we are sure to improve upon next time. We made an error in judgment but we will improve. We have a problem that needs a little alignment. We have virtually removed the language of sin from our vocabulary.

Now this is probably in response to a very poor understanding of what sin really is. Sin is not a moral term, it is not a term that means you don’t have value or worth. Sin is a theological term that reminds us that our relationship with God has been broken and needs fixing.

And here is why I think we need to keep the language of sin in our vocabulary (as misunderstood and abused as it has been). The reason is this: I never take my mistakes to God. I acknowledge them, recognize them, and even give reasons for them. But I don’t take them to God.

With the language of sin we are reminded of the need of confession, and confession is a practice we need to keep. Confession invites God into our lives for transformation. Confession is where we acknowledge our weakness and limits and ask God to do something miraculous. Confession is where we often start to see God work. The problem with the language of “mistakes” is that we never take them to God. And therefore, we don’t invite God into our lives to do a powerful, transformative, and redemptive work.

So while I surely make mistakes, I also sin. And lately I’ve been realizing the importance of naming what is really happening in my life. Because when I honestly name what is happening, and call something in my life sin, I am also simultaneously inviting God in. And I just think that’s important.

My List of Failures…

I hate to fail. I hate the feeling, I hate when it happens. But even more than that, I hate when I don’t learn from my failures.

A mentor of mine taught me to keep a success list. This is where you write down significant accomplishments. Not big, but significant. This helps you when you hit a low week. Those weeks where you wonder what you’re doing in life, and if your life has had any meaning. You can look back over your list and realize that God is working through you. It’s almost a reminder of God’s activity in your life. And this is a good thing.

But I’ve started up something less positive – My list of Failures. This may seem odd, and perhaps it is. But I hate making mistakes and hate even more repeating them. So I write down key mistakes, and what I’ve learned from them so I never do it again. And yes I could title my list more positively like “My List of Learnings”. But for me I know I fail, and I will fail. The title may not be happy but it keeps me humble and healthy.

So want to know some things off my list? Here are a few mistakes I’ve learned from. Don’t email, when a phone call is better and more easily understood. Don’t think someone else will do it. Don’t be embarrassed to ask to pray for someone.

Want to know my newest one?

On Sunday I didn’t feel like I did a good job preaching. Inside I felt a bit off, unsure, and flustered. I let that affect me and my responses. I failed a bit there. So here’s my newest one: Don’t let your job or duties ever stop you from simply pausing, breathing, and praying for God to be present. That probably would have made the difference.

But I’m not going to let to make the same mistake twice.

But what about you. What will you not let happen twice?

What mistakes have you learned from?…