January 22, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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Have you ever weighed food before? As a kid, I used to love going to the grocery store for—amongst a great many reasons—the thrill of putting plantains, potatoes, apples, or peaches on the scale. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I actually thought it was pretty awesome. I even made a game out of guessing how many fruits it would take to reach a certain weight.
Why am I telling you this very strange and seemingly insignificant detail of my past? Well, because I learned something valuable from it. I learned how weight works! I learned that the more weight I added, the farther down the scale would go . . . until, eventually, it had nowhere else to go because it had hit the floor.
Today, we’re going to unpack a very heavy topic: the weight of our sin. Now, as I say that, you may have immediately equated your sin with the produce and your life with the scale. That’s logical. But for today, we’re going to look at it from a different angle . . . one I believe isn’t often discussed. For today, I’m going to ask you to imagine the produce as your sin, but the scale is the lives of the people around you, your loved ones.
Down, Down, Down
So often, as it pertains to our sin, we develop tunnel vision—only seeing what’s directly in front of us and how it immediately impacts us. We usually don’t see, perceive, or even think about the long-term effects it has in our own life, let alone how it impacts others! But much like the scale at the grocery store, the fruit of our sins has a way of weighing down the lives of the people we love.
Our sins can become a heavy burden to the people in our lives, causing serious harm to our relationships. Resentment and bitterness take root, trust is broken—not only in that relationship, but as in many cases, the suspicion and cynicism developed carries over into our other relationships—and everyone suffers. Our friends, siblings, parents, spouse, and worst of all, our kids bear the weight. We become like a cinder block attached to their ankle, dragging them down deeper and deeper with us into the depths of the dark sea.
While there are a myriad of instances in the Bible of the impact of sin on others, I’m going to focus on three examples: Abraham (then called Abram), Jonah, and David.
In Genesis 12:10–13 (HCSB), it says, “There was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine in the land was severe. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘Look, I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife.” They will kill me but let you live. Please say you’re my sister so it will go well for me because of you, and my life will be spared on your account.’”
How bad could it turn out, right? It’s just a little white lie to protect myself from ____________. In Abraham’s case, his lie was one of self-preservation, as he felt the Egyptians would kill him to take his beautiful wife. For you or me, maybe it’s to preserve our reputation, to get that highly sought-after position, or to impress a crush.
But, as Jesus explained, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17 NIV). Translation: Lies have a way of catching up to you—the truth will come out.
So, what happened with Abraham? Well, “Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh, so the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s household. He treated Abram well because of her, and Abram acquired flocks and herds, male and female donkeys, male and female slaves, and camels. But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh sent for Abram and said, ‘What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, “She’s my sister,” so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife. Take her and go!’ Then Pharaoh gave his men orders about him, and they sent him away with his wife and all he had” (Genesis 12:15-20 HCSB).
Abraham reaped the rewards of his lie . . . at first. He acquired flocks and herds. But his sin caused Pharaoh to inadvertently sin, and it impacted his house severely. People who had done nothing, innocent bystanders, became collateral damage feeling the effects of Abraham’s lie. And worst of all, Sarai was, forgive my phrasing, unintentionally pimped out by her husband! When Abraham convinced her to go along with his lie, I’m sure she didn’t expect it to get to this point. And now, she is drowning in the awfulness of Abraham’s sin.
As I said before, lies have a way of catching up to us. Maybe you get discovered and lose everything—that job you lied to get, that crush you deceived and who now no longer trusts you, the respect of your children, etc. Maybe your lying puts your family and friends in awkward positions where they are now also lying for you—thereby also sinning.
Jonah ran from God’s call on his life. He didn’t deem the Ninevites worthy of hearing God’s warning; instead, he wanted them to burn. His narrow, prejudiced, merciless perspective stood in opposition to the character of our Lord, and thus he sinned against the Lord. He fled in the opposite direction of God’s call.
This is a tough pill to swallow for most. A great many who practice this sin refuse to admit it; they don’t see their position and perspective as sinful. It’s one that many may be afraid to ask themselves honestly . . . but it’s something we should all evaluate within ourselves: Are my prejudices keeping me from fulfilling God’s call in my life to make disciples? Is my view of a person or group causing me to sin? Am I refusing opportunities to preach repentance and redemption because I don’t think this person or group deserves it?
Jonah’s prejudices caused him to sin. He disobeyed God. He fled. And here’s what happened: “Then the Lord hurled a violent wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break apart. The sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god. They threw the ship’s cargo into the sea to lighten the load. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down to the lowest part of the vessel and had stretched out and fallen into a deep sleep” (Jonah 1:4–5 HCSB).
These men who had done nothing wrong were now literally about to be dragged down to the bottom of the sea because of Jonah’s sin. They even pleaded with God, “Don’t let us perish because of this man’s life, and don’t charge us with innocent blood!” (Jonah 1:14 HCSB). It took them casting Jonah out of their vessel, out of their life, for the waters to subside.
Who are you weighing down with your prejudices? How do your views impact your kids? How does it impact your relationships with coworkers or neighbors? God invites us to cast off this ugly sin and flee from it, not from Him or His call. We are all created in His image, we are all sinners in need of a Savior; He desires that NONE would perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
There may be no better example in the Bible of the weight of our sins (aside from Adam and Eve of course) upon the lives of others than David. We all know the story. He lusted after Bathsheba, a woman who was married, and then slept with her anyway. He then proceeded to have her husband killed upon discovering she was pregnant—not before trying very hard to cover his tracks, though.
David’s sinful desires led to the death of an innocent man, the death of an innocent child, and contributed to the conflict with and subsequent death of Absalom. His sin destroyed his family in too many ways to count. And just like David, our sins can wreak havoc upon our loved ones. People may get caught in the crossfire, innocent blood may be spilled, and a great many people may suffer. But one thing that’s for certain . . . our family, those closest to us, will bear the biggest, most painful and destructive weight of our sin.
What’s my point? Am I trying to make you feel guilty for your past? Definitely not! My past is littered with unintentional casualties and collateral damage. I don’t want you to feel guilty for the past. If you’ve never asked for forgiveness, though, I do encourage you to take that step toward reconciliation.
What I want you take from this article is that our actions can affect the lives of others in very real, and sometimes very negative, ways. So please, friends, don’t live as if it’s all about you. Remember that every decision you make has the power to bring people up or drag them down. Every choice can be a weight we’re adding to someone else’s scale. Every sin can be a new burden upon the shoulders of the people we value most. Jesus has paid the eternal price. If you’re saved by His grace, you’re forgiven by His blood. Your eternity is secure, but earthly consequences will still take place. And your sins could mean the difference for someone else’s eternity. Your actions and choices could lead someone to Christ or away from Him.
Consider the cost of your decisions.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.