40 miles per hour is the speed limit on University Drive going towards Highway 6. When I drive through that zone, I try to go exactly 45 miles per hour. Why? Because I can get where I’m going faster than if I drive 40, and few police officers aren’t going to pull someone over for only going 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. So I speed as much as possible without really breaking the law.
The sad thing is that this speeding principle was representative of my moral code for most of my life. My conscience wouldn’t let me commit serious sins. But I wanted to go as far towards those sins as I could without actually committing them. That way I could get the respect from my friends and instant gratification that came with those sins, and I wouldn’t have to feel guilty.
Here’s the problem with going 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. If you do it often enough chances are you will find yourself really speeding. My impressive collection of speeding tickets can attest to that. And sadly, in my previous life of driving on the line between sin and not sin, and between mortal and venial sin, I wound up on the wrong end of the line. So many times.
Don’t live your life as if you’re trying to get away with something.
Let me be brutal here – driving on that line shows a lack of love and respect for God. It is saying that we only want to follow God’s perfect laws enough to make ourselves feel good. I’m still not perfect in this respect, but God has helped me to make some changes. I used to think that Christians were just supposed to avoid mortal sins so we don’t go to hell. I didn’t think that venial sins were a big deal. But after coming to know God’s love and power and mercy, I really don’t want to walk the tight rope anymore. Knowing how worthy God is of my love and reverence has changed my desires. I’m no longer okay with getting that close to sin.
The second book of Maccabees gives us an excellent example of the reverence we should show God by following His laws. In the book, the Jews were oppressed by Gentile nations. The Gentiles desecrated the Temple of the Lord and forced the Jews to defile themselves by eating foods that God had forbidden them to eat. There were some Jews who revered God enough to choose torture and death over eating unclean food. Talk about powerful.
God is so mighty and good. It’s never right to sin against Him. We need to have a reverence for Him that makes us avoid sin at all costs- not just the big ones, not just the small ones, but even just the opportunities to sin. Like Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” Don’t live your faith as if you’re trying to get away with something. Live your faith as if you were aspiring to greatness. ‘Cause heaven is worth it.