Deadly Sins—Saving Virtues

Sometimes we find ourselves in experiences without the language to name them – overwhelmed and muted at the same time. Then someone comes along with a toolkit of names for what is happening; we borrow the words and we gain a foothold for the climb out of the overwhelming experience.

I think the church’s lists of Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Saving Virtues is one of those toolkits. This toolkit of names, often brought out in the season of Lent, was created by Christians through the centuries as they wrestled with the temptations of daily life and heard or read the scriptures. The sins are “deadly” not because they cannot be forgiven or overcome – they certainly can and that is the whole point of listing them. They are “deadly” because they want to take over a person’s soul. They are insidious. If left unchecked they can cut a person off from love and community, and ultimately from the life-giving Spirit, the seal of their own sacred worth.

Less well-known then the list of seven deadly sins is a list of seven parallel saving virtues. Virtues are pathways given by God out of the deadly sins and into a life of confidence, consistency, and fruitfulness. God gives the pathways of virtues but we must choose to follow them, to practice and practice until the virtues become automatic reflexes. The Apostle Paul calls this work of progressing from life-destroying sins to life-affirming virtues “growing up in Christ.” John Wesley calls it “sanctifying grace.”

Please join me in the worship service this season of Lent as we look at the seven deadly sins and their counterparts in the seven saving virtues. March 12: the deadly sin of PRIDE and the saving virtue of HUMILITY… March 19: the deadly sin of GREED and the saving virtue of TRUST… March 26: the deadly sin of LUST and the saving virtue of LOVE… April 2: the deadly sin of CONSUMING ANGER and the saving virtue of SELF-CONTROL… April 9: the deadly sin of GLUTTONY and the saving virtue of TEMPERANCE… April 23: the deadly sin of ENVY and the saving virtue of REST IN PROVIDENCE… April 30: the deadly sin of SLOTH and the saving virtue of HOPE.

Your traveling companion through the season of Lent,

Pastor Lew