Through the past few weeks I’ve started to notice something about myself. There are certain Sundays where I come away from speaking and don’t feel that I’ve done my best. I feel like I’ve missed the mark and messed up. And then I started to notice a pattern. The Sundays where I felt like I struggled, and where I lost confidence were all sermons related to conviction and challenge. The sermons where I lost confidence and left feeling a bit shaken were all related to sin, sacrifice, and conviction. Through some reflection I realized that I find it easy to preach a sermon on grace and gift, and difficult to preach a sermon on sin and challenge.
The struggle I face is maybe one you face in your own relationships. I know it is important to talk about sin. I know it is important to challenge people and let the Spirit do his work of convicting. I know this is important because I need it personally. I need to be challenged to give up greed, hate, unforgiveness, lust, and all sorts of sinful things. The struggle I have is in how to do it. How to share in a way that is convicting but not condemning, that is challenging but not judging.
What is even more disturbing to me is a growing realization that I may not feel confident in this type of sharing because of a lack of practice. What I mean by that is perhaps I struggle because I am unaccustomed to sharing about sin. This is concerning to me because Jesus talks about sin, the Bible talks about sin, and sin, we are told, leads to death. Therefore, sin isn’t something I should avoid or struggle speaking about. I should share honestly with the dangers of consumerism, violence, greed, and lust. I should share openly with the temptations and struggles I face. And I shouldn’t ever shy away reminding people that sin leads to death while following Jesus leads to life. And this is something we know deep down. We know that hate kills relationships. We know that lust destroys marriages. We know that unforgiveness wrecks families. So we need to learn to speak about sin in such a way that it leads to life not death.
So I’ve made a personal decision. I will grow and learn in how to share about sin in such as way that conviction without condemnation happens. To share about it in such a way that challenges someone, but doesn’t lead to damnation. To share in such a way that, like Jesus, people who are broken and struggling feel freed; and people who are haughty, prideful, and oppressive to others sees their need.
In essence, I’m going to work on struggling to speak of sin a little less…