The Lesser of Two Evils

“The lesser of two evils is still evil.” – King Solomon

“Of two evils, choose neither.” – Charles Spurgeon

Let’s say someone sleeps with their best friend’s spouse and another person just thinks lustful thoughts about someone other than their spouse.  Which is the lesser of the two evils?

What about a gunman who kills others in a mass shooting versus another person who thinks, “I wish they would all just die!”  Which sin carries greater weight? 

What about a shoplifter versus someone who cheats just a little on their taxes? How about the casual drinker versus the full-blown alcoholic, or the person who watches an “R” rated film full of sex and violence versus the pornography addict?  What sins seems bigger and more intense?  Would God judge these sins differently?

Human reasoning says “Yes!”  We have a tendency to grade and judge our own actions and the actions of others based on the values and norms within society.  We see a tremendous difference in THINKING about doing something wrong versus ACTUALLY DOING something wrong.  Certain sins seem unpardonable, while others carry less judgement and weight.

Lately I’ve been thinking about people in my life who have planned and carried out horrible atrocities.  By no means whatsoever am I perfect, however; when you look at what these individuals have done, their sins have not only impacted myself, but many others as well.  Yet, lightening hasn’t struck them down, bad karma hasn’t kicked in, and God seems slightly indifferent toward ensuring they ultimately get what they have coming to them.

As I was contemplating the level and intensity of their evil, comparing it to what I have done wrong in my own life, it seems like the scales of justice are out of balance.  The suffering they have caused isn’t translating to hardships in their own lives.  It’s as if they are getting a free pass – likened to getting away with murder.

Then, as I sat comparing my own shortcomings to what I view as their large, unpardonable actions, God showed me something – something hard to swallow and hard to comprehend.

“You have heard it said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder’, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” – Jesus speaking in Matthew 5: 21-22 NIV

“You have heard it said, ‘Do not commit adultery”.  But I tell you that anyone who looks at another woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  – Jesus speaking in Matthew 5: 27-28 NIV 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  – Jesus speaking in Matthew 7: 1-2 NIV 

Sin is simply sin.  One act isn’t larger than another.  One doesn’t take you to the grave faster or condemn you any stronger.  There is no such thing as the lesser of two evils.  The sin I have committed in my own life is exactly the same and holds the same weight as the people who I view as detestable and unforgivable.

“The wages of sin is death….” (Romans 6:23)

You might be thinking:   “Wait a minute!  You mean to tell me someone who actually commits murder versus someone who simply thinks about it is basically the same level of sin?  The person who actually commits adultery is the same as someone who thinks lustful thoughts?  That doesn’t make any sense!”

You’re right.  For us humans it doesn’t make much sense at all.  But God thinks about sin differently and the more I think about it, the more I marvel at the kind of God we serve!

“God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who seek God.  Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”  – Psalm 53: 2-3 NIV

Well (you might be thinking), if God views all sin as the same, that sin is simply sin, then isn’t that being kind of harsh – especially for those of us who don’t act out our sinful thoughts?

No. In fact, it says the exact opposite about God and his love for us all 🙂 No sin is too great, too severe or too insurmountable.  No sin can withstand the grace and redemption of the cross!  This is such Good News!  It announces to us all that no sin and no action can stretch beyond the limitless forgiveness and mercy of Christ 🙂

But as humans, we feel the need (like me lately) to judge.  Judging others makes us feel better about ourselves.  When we mentally lift ourselves up like this by putting other down, we falsely believe we have a part in our own redemption.  We think by being a little better person than someone else, we earn or deserve God’s favor, greater blessings or a little higher place or reward in heaven someday. 

When we think our own behavior has an impact on our individual salvation, what we are doing in essence is diminishing the work of the cross.  We are saying that Christ’s death wasn’t all-encompassing. It didn’t quite take care of all sin for everyone.  We don’t believe Christ when he says, “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16)  We believe that His death only satisfies the sins of the godly, not the godless.  We believe (our ego believes) that we have control over our own destiny someday, that the good we do will benefit us and those who sin great and powerful sins will be forever unforgiven.

Friends, thank God this isn’t how He thinks or acts!  Thank God He views us all the same!  Thank Jesus for saying at the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!” instead of expecting us to save ourselves through our own actions!

Now I can look at sin like He looks at it.  No one is better than anyone else.  There is no lesser of two evils!  We are all the same and we are all saved by His grace!

Personally, when I view my own sin on the same level as others (Sin is sin…PERIOD!), I have a greater propensity to forgive, to understand, and to accept others.  When I see how much I am forgiven, it is so much easier to forgive.  When we refuse to judge, we won’t be judged in return, and that my friends is such a wonderful thought!

This week I hope (like me) you think about sin differently than you ever have before.  I hope you see it as God sees it – one and the same. No grading levels or perceived hierarchy – no one better or worse than the other.  Seeing it in this light, I know you will judge less, forgive more, and rest in the knowledge that Christ has given each of us a tremendous gift in His finished work at the cross.

“The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans 6:23)

God bless!

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