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 | By Allison Ramirez

Scripture is our guide in turning away from sin

Seven deadly sins:

Pride - Greed - Envy - Lust - Wrath - Gluttony - Sloth


The seven deadly sins

The term “seven deadly sins” has such a scary ring to it. We may think, “these have to be really bad sins such as murder and I would never kill anyone.” Despite the dire label, this list of sins speaks to temptations that we, as Christians, struggle with each and every day. But we can turn to Scripture, especially Jesus’ words and actions, for practical guidance.

Sin wounds – or, in the case of mortal sin, breaks – our relationship with God and others. More important than “not sinning,” however, is for us to keep “the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7) in our hearts. This peace allows us, with God’s grace, to advance in the holiness we so long to have. In this column, we will begin to look at how Jesus’ words and actions can help us turn away from sin and move toward a virtuous life filled with truth, love and his peace.

From pride to humility

In the Gospel of Matthew, as Jesus enters Capernaum, a centurion approaches him and asks that he come and heal his servant who is ill. When Jesus replies that he will, the centurion says, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (8:8) Jesus turns to those who are following him and says, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (8:10)

The humility of the centurion, who has great authority as an officer of the Roman army, amazes Jesus. He recognizes that the authority of Jesus far surpasses his own. The centurion does not rely on his own power or authority to get what he desires – namely, the healing of his servant. Rather, he humbly asks the Lord and then allows him to work in ways he could never accomplish on his own.

From greed to giving

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed the crowd depositing their money. He noticed that rich people put in large sums while a poor widow put in two small coins. Jesus said to his disciples, “This poor widow has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had.” (12:43-44)

This woman offers all she has, small though it may be, as a gift to the Lord. She holds nothing back from God, placing all her trust in him to care for her needs. As much as our money, possessions, relationships or status seem to be ours, everything we have is ultimately a gift from God. We must never fear that the Lord will not be enough.

From envy to thanksgiving

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus presents the parable of the man who had two sons. One son squanders his inheritance on a life of sin. Hungry and destitute, he returns home seeking his father’s mercy. The obedient son is jealous of the warm welcome his wayward brother has received and says to his father: “All these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders … but when your son returns who swallowed up your property, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.” (15: 29-30) His father replies, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again.” (15:31-32)

Oftentimes we are envious of others because they have something we do not or appear to be treated better or loved more. We want things to be fair, but we are reminded in this parable that we should celebrate our own gifts and blessings without comparing them to the gifts and blessings of others. We cannot begin to fathom the ways in which God provides for each of us according to our needs, calling us to live with thanksgiving.

In the next Spiritual Fitness column, the author will explore how Scripture can help us turn away from lust, wrath, gluttony and sloth.

Allison Ramirez is a Catholic author, editor and teacher. She holds an M.A. in theology with an emphasis on Church History.

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