April 28: The Subtle Sinner
Joshua 19:10–20:9; 2 Corinthians 12:11–21; Psalm 57:1–58:11
Some sins slip through the cracks—the ones that emerge in hushed tones between like-minded Christians. Sometimes these sins seem respectable because they occur out of supposed concerns for the Church or others. But they can leave deep gashes in the life of a community because they often go unchecked. And it’s these sins that Paul addresses shortly before closing his letter to the Corinthians:
“For I am afraid lest somehow when I arrive, I will not find you as I want, and I may be found by you as you do not want. I am afraid lest somehow there will be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, pride, disorder” (2 Cor 12:20).
While the Corinthians were guilty of flagrant sins like impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness, they were also sinning in ways that subtly undermined Paul’s authority. Slander and gossip created deep divisions in the Corinthian church, just as they do in our churches today.
We often don’t realize we’re committing these sins until rumors reach the individual we’re gossiping about. Paul had been absent from the Corinthian community for some time. During his absence, dissenters slandered him. The Corinthians should have defended Paul while he was away, but instead, he was forced to defend his own ministry (2 Cor 13:2–3). He anticipated that his return to the community would reveal the true state of the situation.
Ultimately, these subtle sins were an attack on the good news—not just Paul. Because his integrity was brought into question, the authenticity of his message was also criticized. In addition, Paul was forced to address their sin before he could reach out to other communities with the good news (2 Cor 10:15).
The decisions we make on a daily basis can lead to division or unity in our community. And choosing to be a faithful peacemaker in the midst of divisive sins might have a bigger impact than we can imagine.
What are your subtle sins that are wrongfully condoned?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Also the third lot arose for the children of Zebulun, according to their families: and the coasts of their inheritace came to Sarid. And their border goeth up Westward, even to Maralah, and reacheth to Dabbasheth, and meeteth with the river that lieth before Jokneam, And turneth from Sarid Eastward toward the Sun rising unto the border of Chisloth Tabor, and goeth out to Daberath, and ascendeth to Japhia, And from thence goeth along Eastward toward the Sun rising to Gath Hepher, to Eth Kazin, and goeth forth to Rimmon, and turneth to Neah. And this border compasseth it on the North side to Hannathon, and the ends thereof are in the valley of Jiphath El, And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun, according to their families, that is, these cities and their villages. The fourth lot came out to Issachar, even for the children of Issachar, according to their families. And their coast was Jezreel, and Chesulloth, and Shunem, And Haphraim, and Shion, and Anaharath, And Rabbith, and Kishion, and Abez, And Remeth, and En Gannim, and En Haddah, and Beth Pazzez. And this coast reacheth to Tabor, and Shahazimah, and Beth Shemesh, and the ends of their coast reach to Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Issachar according to their families: that is, the cities and their villages. Also the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families. And their coast was Helkath, and Hali, and Beten, and Achshaph, And Alammelech, and Amad, and Mishal, and came to Carmel Westward, and to Shihor Libnath, And turneth toward the Sun rising to Beth Dagon, and cometh to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthah El, toward te North side of Beth Emek, and Neiel, and goeth out on the left side of Cabul, And to Ebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, unto great Sidon. Then the coast turneth to Ramah and to the strong city of Zor, and this border turneth to Hosah, and the ends thereof are at the Sea from Hebel to Achzib, Ummah also and Aphek, and rehob: two and twenty cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher, according to their families: that is, these cities and their villages. The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even to the children of Naphtali according to their families. And their coast was from Heleph, and from Allon in Zaanannim, and Adami Nekeb, and Jabneel, even to Lakkum, and the ends thereof are at Jordan. So this coast turneth Westward to Aznoth Tabor, and goeth out from thence to Hukkok, and reacheth to Zebulun on the South side, and goods to Asher on the West side, and to Judah by Jordan toward the sun rising. And the strong cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth., And Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor, And Kedesh, and Edrei, and En Hazor, And Iron, and Migdal El, Horem, and Beth Anath, and Beth Shemesh: nineteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Naphtali according to their families. And the coast of their inheritance as Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Ir Shemesh, And Shaalabbin, and Aijalon, and Jethlah, and Elon, and Timnah, and Ekron, And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath, And Me Jarkon, and Rakkkon, with the border that lieth before Japho. But the coast of the children of Dan fell out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan after the name of Dan their father. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families: that is, these cities and their villages. When they had made an end of dividing the land by the coasts thereof, then the children of Israel gave an inheritance unto Joshua the son of Nun among them. According to the word of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnath Serah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city and dwelt therein. These are the heritages which Eleazar the Priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided by lot in Shiloh before the Lord at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation: so they made an end of dividing the country. The Lord also spake unto Joshua, sayiing, Speak to the children of Israel, and say, Appoint you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses, That the slayer that killeth any person by ignorance, and unwittingly, may flee thither, and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And he that doth flee unto one of those cities, shall stand in the entering of the gate of the city, and shall show his cause to the Elders of the city: and they shall receive him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell with them. And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he smote his neighbor ignorantly, neither hated he him beforetime: But he shall dwell in that city until he stand before the Congregation in judgment, or until the death of the high Priest that shall be in those days: then shal the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, even unto the city from whence he fled. Then they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjath Arba, (which is Hebron) in the mountain of Judah. And on the other side Jordan toward Jericho Eastward, they appointed Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain, out of the tribe of Ruben, and Ramoth in Gilead, out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan, out of the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourned among them, that whosoever killed any person ignorantly, might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the Congregation. Joshua 19:10–20:9
- I was a fool to boast myself: ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing was I inferior unto the very chief Apostles, though I be nothing. The signs of an Apostle were wrought among you with all patience, with signs, and wonders and great works. For what is it, wherein ye were inferiors unto other Churches, except that I have not been slothful to your hindrance? forgive me this wrong. Behold, the third time I am ready to come unto you, and yet will I not be slothful to your hindrance: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the fathers, but the fathers for the children. And I will most gladly bestow, and will be bestowed for your souls: though the more I love you, the less I am loved. But be it that I charged you not: yet for as much as I was crafty, I took you with guile. Did I pill you by any of them whom I sent unto you? I have desired Titus, and with him I have sent a brother: did Titus pill you of any things? walked we not in the selfsame spirit? walked we not in the same steps? Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. For I fear lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would: and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: and lest there be strife, envyings, wrath, contentions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, and discord. I fear lest when I come again, my God abase me among you, and I shall bewail many of them which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and wantonness which they have committed. 2 Corinthians 12:11–21
- Have mercy upon me, O God, have mercy upon me; for my soul trusteh in thee, and in the shadow of thy wings will I trust, till these afflictions overpass. I will call unto the most high God, even the God, that performeth his promise toward me. He will send from heaven, and save me from the reproof of him that would swallow me. Selah. God will send his mercy, and his truth. My soul is among lions; I lie among the children of men, that are set on fire; whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Exalt thyself, O God, above the heaven, and let thy glory be upon all the earth. They have laid a net for my steps; my soul is pressed down, they have dug a pit before me, and are fallen into the midst of it. Selah. Mine heart is prepared, O God, mine heart is prepared; I will sing and give praise. Awake my tongue, awake viol and harp: I will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people, and I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Exalt thyself, O God, above the heavens, and let thy glory be upon all the earth. Is it true? O congregation, speak ye justly? O sons of men judge ye uprightly? Yea, rather ye imagine mischief in your heart: your hands execute cruelty upon the earth. The wicked are strangers from the womb: even from the belly have they erred, and speak lies. Their poison is even like the poison of a serpent; like the deaf adder that stoppeth his ear. Which heareth not the voice of the enchanter, though he be most expert in charming. Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break the jaws of the young lions, O Lord. Let them melt like the waters, let them pass away; when he shooteth his arrows, let them be as broken. Let them consume like a snail that melteth, and like the untimely fruit of a woman, that hath not seen the sun. As raw flesh before your pots feel the fire of thorns: so let them carry them away as with a whirlwind in his wrath. The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. And men shall say, Verily there is fruit for the righteous; doubtless there is a God thta judgeth in the earth. Psalm 57:1–58:11