We had a cat crisis yesterday. They ran out of their favorite food, which is not safe for any of us. So after work, I stopped off at a grocery store that I’ve visited for years. There was a strange feeling in the air. Quickly I realized that shelves were half bare. Then I saw the “STORE CLOSING” signs.
I wasn’t surprised, really. Over the past years, I had found that I had to make sure I was in the checkout line of the old cashiers because the new ones behaved rudely. I quit buying food from their deli because I could see unsanitary conditions. No wonder that shoppers quit going there. Did greed or laziness keep them from training and supervising their employees? Did their own bad choices drive them from business?
Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (KJV).
We old-timers often talk about the bad habits, bad manners, bad behavior that we naturally slip into as “besetting sins”. Some besetting sins we are quite aware of: like the tendency to snarl at family members before the first cup of coffee. We even joke about it.
Some besetting sins are obvious to others, but we are blind to them. Perhaps we have a streak of greed that causes us to make rash decisions, or jealousy that drives others away, or co-dependency that makes us cling fast to toxic relationships.
I have a suspicion that besetting sins hinder us in running the race that God has set before us. Do you remember the movie Chariots of Fire and watching the scenes of the runners starting a race? They were watching for the goal line. If they took their eyes off the goal, they might trip.
The problem with besetting sins is that they cause us to look at the wrong things, think about the wrong things, and tangle our own feet. We wonder what on earth (and we often think someone else did this to us…).
That’s why the Lord’s Prayer tells us in Matthew 6:12 to ask God to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (KJV). We need God’s forgiveness for obvious things, but also for those entangling, besetting sins.
I’m praying for my old cashier-friends at the grocery store to find new jobs quickly. I thanked the one who waited on me while I paid for the cat food for her years of friendly service.
And I’m asking God’s forgiveness for my own besetting sins.