Sin behind sins

We thank you, for you have not destroyed us with our sins, but have continued to love us; and though we were sunk in despair, you have raised us up to glorify your power.
Prayer of Saint Basil, line 4

What are my sins? If I think of sins as specific acts or thoughts, the list isn’t short. But I don’t think that’s the real issue. Sin seems to be closer to missing the point, losing sight and direction; when I miss the point, I might see the harm I do my neighbor and myself as sinful, but I might not see the missing-the-point that gives it birth.

One of the ways I miss the point: mistaking my worth with the work of my hands. If I see my value only in my accomplishments, I’ll do my best to make myself indispensable. I’ll neglect everything that takes time from achieving, damaging family and friends. I’ll make sure to foster dependence rather than foster cooperative independence in my work. I’ll want my absence noticed, even if others suffer for it. I’ll destroy myself and others if I don’t feel valuable enough, and I’ll never fell valuable enough.

I can’t see this missing-the-point sin unless I know that it’s me who’s irreplaceable, not my work. Someone else can do my work, and the work I do should strengthen others rather than weaken them. The same is true for everyone else, too. Every single one of us is valuable and unique, loved by God for being, not doing. It’s the truth that lifts us from despair into joy. It frees us to offer our talents and support the talents of others.

Each one of us is irreplaceable, but someone else can do our job. Glory be to God!

For the complete prayer, click Prayer of Saint Basil above.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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