Some people really love their sin. Are you one of them? If someone were to ask me this question, I would immediately respond with an emphatic No! I love the Lord, and I struggle against sinful attitudes and actions every day. My flesh is relentless in its desire to be satisfied, but I am battling it daily, with some success. I’m sure that I don’t love my sin!
But wait. If I don’t love my sin, then why does it seem I’m unable to uproot it from my heart? I’m not talking here about the sin nature, or the flesh or the influence of the enemy. I’m talking about what we Christians call besetting sins. These are the sins that seem to be constantly tempting us. Like the child’s game of Whack-a-Mole, we think we’ve got it beaten, and it pops up somewhere else. It seems we are in a constant, life-long cycle of sin-consequence-repentance-forgiveness. This is very discouraging, and we wonder if we will ever overcome this sin.
These besetting sins seem more deeply rooted than others. If you think about it, you can probably remember other sins that used to be problematic for you in your early Christian days, but no longer seem to be much of an issue. For example, I used to have a significant anger problem. I was very impatient and easily annoyed, which would quickly turn to anger and frustration. I had to confess and repent many times, but eventually I seemed to get a handle on that, and it doesn’t control me anymore.
But there is another sin habit that really seems to have a death grip on my heart. My awareness of this particular issue has been keenly sharpened over the last few years as I have struggled with chronic pain and disability. That issue is self-pity. I am always amazed at how easily I can fall into this mode of feeling sorry for myself because I can’t do the things I want to do. I was watching an old Willy Wonka movie yesterday, and I saw myself in the character of Veruca Salt, who was terribly spoiled and petulant. As I watched her demand that her father buy her everything she wanted, I became convicted of my own discontentment.
But for me, it’s more than just discontentment. When I can’t have what I want, and my Father won’t get it for me, I begin to feel sorry for myself. As I watch others who seem to have a better life than I do, I become jealous, and this compounds my misery. I become a spoiled brat who believes she is entitled to whatever she wants, just because she wants it! This is not acceptable for a child of the living God! But how can I change? “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24). Thank God indeed, I already have the answer to my problem! I have been freed from this sin. Now, I must receive the pardon and break free of the bonds of besetting sin.
The truth is, I am not a slave to sin, but a slave of Christ. I owe Him my life, my every breath, my very soul! How can I possibly feel sorry for myself when I have eternal life? This time here on earth, in this broken body, is a vapor (James 4:14). Besides that, there are many who are living in much greater difficulty than I am. Some of them would probably give anything to have what I have. The key to uprooting this sin in my life is to open my eyes to these truths, and to the people all around me who are suffering. Ministering to others is the absolute best cure for self-pity. I have experienced this many times as I am working on this sin pattern in my own life. As I reach out to help others, my own problems are diminished, I am more grateful, and I begin to move toward that contentment that seems so elusive.
If you haven't seen the Willy Wonka movie, and you'd like to meet Veruka, click here. You may see a little bit of yourself in her, too!