This week, Evan and I have been reading a chapter of 1 Timothy every day. After my 8am history class, I took off my heavy backpack and rested on my couch, opening up my Bible. Today we had chosen to read 1 Timothy chapter 5. As I read, many wheels started turning in my head.
In 1 Timothy 5:24 Paul writes,”The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” Now, during college, a backpack basically becomes your most common accessory (unforunately); you wear it every single day, almost everywhere you go. Since I walk around all day with my constant accessory strapped across my shoulders, this got me thinking…feeling the weight can come in two different forms: immediate or gradual.
Sin can be like putting a heavy textbook in your backpack, or it can be like slowly collecting folders, pencils, and notebooks. Sometimes we feel it immediately, and other times we gradually become aware of it as the day progresses. Either way, it strains our back, making us tired and sore. Paul breaks sin down into the categories of “obvious” and sins that “trail behind”. It’s so easy to point out the visible sins of others. Some sins just can’t be hidden. We love to say, “Well, I might gossip sometimes, but at least I don’t swear up a storm like SHE does.” Sound familiar? I know I’m guilty of this comparison game. Or maybe, “I might not make that much effort to be a great sister, but hey, at least I don’t do drugs like HE does.” This is not fair. A sin is a sin, no matter what form it takes, some are just easier for the naked eye to spot.
Obvious sins are textbook sins, sins that are easy to spot, and sins that “weigh down the backpack” immediately. We feel the consequences of textbook sins pretty quickly, and they aren’t very easy to cover up. We love comparing our smaller sins to the textbook sins of others, because it makes us feel better about what we are doing wrong. Other sins are like a gradual build up of folders and binders; they might not feel very restricting or guilt-inducing right away, but after they collect, they too will start to weigh us down. I think of these sins as gossip, or ignoring that spiritual nudge you get to say a few kind words to the girl who looks like she could use a day-brightener. These sins aren’t noticeable at first, but later we start to feel the weight as they collect.
I want to challenge you to keep your eyes open for your “textbook” sins and your “notebook” sins. Both of them fill the backpack and strain your spiritual spine. The best way to start emptying your backpack is to unzip it, so use prayer to ask God for forgiveness. As you do this, He immediately and graciously unzips your backpack, no matter how stubborn the zipper. After this, ask for God to give you the awareness to identify and spot a common sin that you struggle with. Maybe it’s a jolt of hesitation from your conscience the next time that you’re about to say something neither kind nor constructive about that girl who has been getting under your skin. Pray for the strength to refrain from the sins the next time around. After your backpack is unzipped, allow God to unload your backpack by displaying all of the contents before Him. Think of how good it feels to take off a heavy backpack after a long day of school.
Let God unzip your backpack…and rest your spiritual spine.