Yesterday in Sunday School we talked about sin. Specifically, we talked about all the people that died during the Flood. Noah’s family stayed safe on the ark because of Noah’s righteousness. Romans 6:23 reminds us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” A discussion about this verse led to another verse, Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And this verse led to one of the women reminding us “sin has an I in the middle.”
Her words lodged in my heart. Sin has an I in the middle. All the ways that we get in trouble because of our sin are because we put ourselves first and God and others behind that. We make ourselves more and God less. When you look at any sin – our own or someone else’s – you see that I front and center. A person commits adultery because he or she is unhappy and “I” matters more than others. People make money (or jobs or sports) their god because they think it will make the “I” happy. We do things that make God sad because we put ourselves first.
Whenever I fall into sinful ways, it is always because I put myself first. I get angry and lash out, hurting others around me. I feel hurt and want someone else to hurt as much as I do. Someone insults me or makes me feel less, so I insult them back or inflate my own importance. All of this is sin. Sin has an I in the middle.
So, how do we combat this I-in-the-middle sin? Here are some great Bible verses to help us. In Matthew 22:38 and 39 Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” God is first, others are second, I am third.
I also really like Philippians 2:3 and 4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.“
During this Holy Week, as we contemplate the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, think about the place of sin in your life. Can you make the I smaller? Can you live in imitation of the Savior who died for your sins? Increase your love for Jesus and for others, and gradually sin will decrease in your life, by his grace and power. Sin will always have an I in the middle – but we can choose to live a different way.