Years ago, my goddaughter came home and declared that the kids at school were using the “S” word. Since I am the superintendent of that school, I got the hackles up on the back of my neck and demanded to know who was using such a dirty word. As I chuckled under my breath, she revealed that the kids on the monkey bars were calling each other “stupid.”
I recall that story with fondness and a grin. I wish all “dirty words” were so innocent and that they might just disappear from our culture.
Truth is there is a “dirty” word that no one uses much anymore. It has all but disappeared from our vocabulary. It’s the word “sin.” We might have shortcomings. We might disappoint the “man upstairs”. We might slip or goof, but we just don’t sin much.
Let me offer some “proof” that the word “sin” (and its impact on our society) has pretty much been put to bed. Consider the national Day of Prayer. Starting with Lincoln, our presidents have called our attention to the impact of sin on our nation.
Eisenhower said in 1953, “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.”
But all the subsequent calls to prayer have never mentioned the concept of public or private sin. I can’t think of any of our national leaders who has publically prayed, “Be merciful to us sinners…” I guess we stopped sinning about 60 years ago.
Or not. Perhaps this week is a good opportunity to remind us all of the Biblical sense of sinning. In the Old Testament all the words associated with this truth have something to do with “missing the mark.” We either fall short of the bull’s eye, shoot over the target, land the arrow off to the side or in some other way miss hitting the goal.
Paul reminded us all in Romans “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” John told us that if we “claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Instead, as a people and individually, we must “call a spade a spade” and acknowledge our sin nature. We need His mercy and grace, collectively and as individuals.
This is a good time to revive that dirty word, “sin.”
Like Isaiah of old, we might say “Woe to me, I am ruined. For I am a man (or woman) of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” (Isa. 6:5)
It is a good perspective giver.