We’re in a themed sermon series at Watermark Community Church, led by Pastor Todd Wagner. Yesterday, the theme was “Resolve” and his focus was on the resolve of being a part of something for the right reason, centered on love.
One of the points Pastor Todd brought up struck a chord, especially since yesterday there was a voter registration drive at Watermark. Todd spoke about the resolve in the relationships we have with others, and he mentioned the Seven Deadly Sins of Thomas Aquinas. Also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, the list makes up the worst vices that cut a person off from God’s grace. In Latin and English, the Seven Deadly Sins are: superbia (pride), avaritia (greed), luxuria (extravagance, later lust), invidia (envy), gula (gluttony), ira (wrath), and acedia (sloth).
Each of the Seven Deadly Sins corresponds to one of the Seven Holy Virtues, and together these lists were the moral standards and tests of the early Catholic Church. Now, I’m not one who’s big on manmade dogma, but as we head into the 2016 presidential election cycle, there are some interesting thoughts I wanted to share.
Does America possess a moral compass anymore? I’m not talking about us having a morality litmus test for candidates, but as an electorate, what do we embrace ourselves?
I often hear the angst of the people when I go out to speak, or even when I’m just out and about. Folks are justifiably angered, but I always ask them, how did these politicians get to be elected officials, regardless of what level of government?I believe the real inquiry shouldn’t be of the political class, but rather of us, the electorate of America. In the last 2012 presidential election cycle, reports say anywhere between 7 to 8 million Christians decided to not vote. Well, then you get the government you deserve. As Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is you you end up being governed by your inferiors.” But in addition you could also find yourself being governed by those who do not share your basic comprehension of moral principles and values.
Here’s what I found regarding the Seven Deadly Sins, and how it relates to our Judeo-Christian heritage, with God’s word in the Bible;
> Lust – to have an intense desire or need: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
> Gluttony – excess in eating and drinking: “for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (Proverbs 23:21).
> Greed – excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19).
> Laziness – disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous: “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19).
> Wrath – strong vengeful anger or indignation: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)
> Envy – painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).
> Pride – quality or state of being proud – inordinate self esteem: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)
Let’s be honest, not a single one of us could pass this with an “A” grade, probably a high “C” would be an objective — as perfection is a desired but hardly an attainable goal.
But what we should all endeavor is to identify and control these behaviors in our lives, especially in our relations with others. I love to chow down on Five Guys and there are times when I just want to be a couch potato and not be bothered — but that doesn’t happen too often. And I can tell you when I saw that 2016 Victory Cross Country 8-Ball bike, well, there was an intense desire. My point is that everything has to be done in moderation and with care not to hurt others. I have lots of pride in being an American — and even in my appearance.
But there’s a better compass we should use as we determine those whom we seek to be our elected leaders. And it comes from the wisest of all, King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs Chapter six. There it is written in Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV),
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”
My assessment is that these criteria as articulated by Solomon are indeed a quantifiable standard by which we should seek to live — and a good guide for us to follow as we decide leadership in America.
We shouldn’t want anyone who has an issue with integrity. A person that creates divisions is not a leader, who seeks to benefit from collectivization and strife among respective groups based upon gender, race and income. This nation cannot survive with folks who want to foment false narratives in order to manipulate and deceive our country. What Solomon was presenting in this scriptural passage is a simple examination of ourselves and how we can have better relationships with others.
Remember the children of Israel decided they wanted a King, so God gave them Saul. That didn’t work out so well, so God sent Samuel into the House of Jesse, and there he found a young boy who had been tending the sheep. Let us never forget the metaphor of David’s stance against Goliath.
There are times when problems seem too large in our lives, and our enemies taunt us. But inner faith, conviction, and belief enable us all to face those “giants” and slay them with something as simple as a smooth stone. David wasn’t perfect man — he certainly violated some of Aquinas’ seven deadly sins — but he was a fella after God’s own heart, as you read in Psalms. And his son Solomon asked the Lord God not for riches, but for wisdom and discernment to be an effective leader.
Who of the 2016 presidential candidates do you believe would go to the Lord God — not political consultants — and ask for wisdom and discernment? Who do you think would stand before the Goliaths of today, and with personal character, prayer, conviction and a bag of stones, slay the “perceived” giants?