I know how many are your crimes,
and how numerous are your sins—
afflicting the righteous,
taking money on the side,
turning away the poor who seek help.
Therefore, the one who is wise will keep silent in that time;
it is an evil time…
I hate, I reject your festivals;
I don’t enjoy your joyous assemblies.
If you bring me your entirely burned offerings and gifts of food—
I won’t be pleased;
I won’t even look at your offerings of well-fed animals.
Take away the noise of your songs;
I won’t listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Amos 5:12-13; 21-24
Forgive me, I don’t recall where I read/heard this, but this person said that for Jesus sin is not where people are weak and struggling, but that sin is where people are strong and not bothered.
For example, in the Good Samaritan parable, the Levite and the Priest could’ve helped but they don’t bother. So sin is a failure to bother to love.
I’ve been sitting on this idea of sin for a while letting it ferment in my thoughts.
We, as Christians in the United States, not being bothered to love is a spreading epidemic.
Don’t get me wrong, we do love but we love what’s easy to love: power; money; status; people we can benefit from; people of our tribe/ilk.
And this is something all of us are prone to.
We all have fallen into the space where we don’t bother and fail to love.
But much like the legal expert whose question inspired Jesus to tell the story about the Good Samaritan — we get caught up with the question: who is my neighbor?
Which echoes the question that Cain asked God: am I my brother’s keeper?
The answer to both questions is: YES!
(Admittedly “yes” doesn’t make sense for the question who is my neighbor?…)
It’s not up to us to determine who to love — just that we love.
That we get bothered to love — particularly the “least of these” in our community.
But don’t take it just from me — I spent about 10 minutes flipping through scripture to find where God’s heart lies. Here’s what I found:
8 [God] enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. 19 That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt. — Deuteronomy 10:18-19
7 Now if there are some poor persons among you, say one of your fellow Israelites in one of your cities in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, don’t be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward your poor fellow Israelites. 8 To the contrary! Open your hand wide to them. You must generously lend them whatever they need.
9 But watch yourself! Make sure no wicked thought crosses your mind, such as, The seventh year is coming—the year of debt cancellation—so that you resent your poor fellow Israelites and don’t give them anything. If you do that, they will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin. 10 No, give generously to needy persons. Don’t resent giving to them because it is this very thing that will lead to the Lord your God’s blessing you in all you do and work at. 11 Poor persons will never disappear from the earth. That’s why I’m giving you this command: you must open your hand generously to your fellow Israelites, to the needy among you, and to the poor who live with you in your land. — Deuteronomy 15:9-10
19 “Cursed is anyone who obstructs the legal rights of immigrants, orphans, or widows.”
All the people will reply: “We agree!” — Deuteronomy 27:19
10 Also do not pick your vineyard clean or gather up all the grapes that have fallen there. Leave these items for the poor and the immigrant; I am the Lord your God. — Leviticus 19:10
27 Don’t withhold good from someone who deserves it,
when it is in your power to do so.
28 Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go and come back;
I’ll give it to you tomorrow,” when you have it. — Proverbs 3:27-28
17 learn to do good.
help the oppressed;
defend the orphan;
plead for the widow. — Isaiah 1:17
27 Therefore, Your Majesty, please accept my advice: remove your sins by doing what is right; remove your wrongdoing by showing mercy to the poor. Then your safety will be long lasting.” — Daniel 4:27
He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8
I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.
I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’ — Matthew 25:35-36; 40b
17 But if someone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but refuses to help—how can the love of God dwell in a person like that? — 1 John 3:17
And Jesus’ mission statement:
The Lord God’s spirit is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me
to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim release for captives,
and liberation for prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor — Isaiah 61:1-2a
Sin is a failure to bother to love.