Dear Salvation Army – 4 Sins No One Is Talking About

We must be very diligent in our understanding of sin. Sin is not to be trifled with.
At the same time judgment is certainly not ours either. Although we are not ultimate judges over sin, we are called to live a life worthy of our calling. (Eph. 4:1)

I do not wish to sound ‘holier than thou’ in this article.  Please don’t take it that way.  These are struggles that I face and I know others do too.  

In the army we wage a daily battle on the front lines and we seek to help pull people up out of the raging waters of sin and death. As soldiers for God we must be alert and careful that while we pull souls from these depths that we do not get pulled back into those dangerous riptides ourselves. Sin and the temptation of sin still makes us vulnerable to falling away from the fellowship of God! This should make us more aware of the trappings of sin in our lives both as an individual soldier as well as a collective army.

That being said, I would like to explore 4 sins no one seems to be talking about much these days. I am sure someone out there will be eager to point out that they have been talking about these, but by and large these specific sins seem to go unspoken, unnoticed, or perhaps ignored…we can’t ignore these anymore.  Please also note that I am not pointing fingers here either, for to do so would also indite me and I would merely seek to cast light on these four topics as we prayerful and even personally address them in our own lives.

4 Sins No One Is Talking About:
1.  Complacency

complacent
We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.”– Thomas Edison

Perhaps we’ve never looked at it this way before, but complacency can be a sin if it impedes us in the present and the future!  Is the mission of our army, not just internationally but most importantly locally, frustrated by complacency as we hang our laurels on what we have already accomplished?  Complacency has a way of producing tunnel vision that blinds us from present needs of souls at our doors and in our communities.  Forgive me for sounding calloused but we cannot expect the lost, poor, hurting and spiritually in need to simply come to our doors.  No!  We must go to them.  We must go to them with love, compassion, care and support.  We must go to them and employ present evangelical, relevant/relational tools.

Complacency can render us impotent in mission.  Complacency can, if we are not careful, lead to apathy in relation to others.  Complacency is a sin when it prevents us from fulfilling our calling to the Lord because we cannot train our eyes on the present when they are fixed on the past.

2. Exclusivity –

members-only
This is a very real sin that can enter our corps and offices in seemingly innocuous ways.  We find commonality with friends, family and others that we share common interests, but what happens when someone does not look like us?  What happens when someone has different view points or hobbies or even biblical understandings?  Do we ostracize them or do we include them regardless of many differences?

Being “exclusive” is the opposite of “inclusive”, it takes the form in our corps that separates “Us” from “Them” just because people do not look like us, or because they don’t talk like us, or even live like “we” think they should.

As an Army, we began as “the Christian Mission” in order to reach those who were not welcome in the church of the day.  In part, we began because exclusivity was a real issue in Victorian England…has exclusivity entered our Army today?  How do we combat this sin?  Yes, I believe it to be a sin because it can prevent others from joining our fellowship of believers on the basis of appearance, present lifestyle, or other things which are not like “us”.

We must be ever aware of the temptation of separation from “those” people.  Jesus died for the whosoever, not just the select few, the “holy” few, those that look like “us”…be careful dear soldier for this sin has a very slippery slope.

3. Coveting 

covet
We understand what “coveting” is, but do we know that it can exist in our Army?  Soldiers can covet what other corps have that they do not.  Officers can covet appointments that seem better than where they are now.  We run the risk of spending so much time peering over the fence at what others have that we lose our way and our effectiveness in our present mission field.

Coveting can deprive us from appreciating what we do have in our corps and in our ministries. We can lose our gratefulness and appreciation to a Mighty God who provides for the faithful.  Coveting is a sin in our hearts and in our ministries if we allow it to take root and fester.  Be very aware so as to not fall into begrudging what we do not have and what others might possess.  Faithfulness to God and to His ministry here and now requires us to look away from what others have and are doing and refocus on what He has appointed us to do right here and right now!

4. Gluttony
gluttony

Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us.” -Peter De Vries
I might be scratching a personal itch that might hurt…sorry.  This is personal to me as well.  Why do so many Army events (at least in the Western world) focus on food, even to the point of fixation?  Another component to this is that the life of a soldier and officer can be stressful and can consume many hours of the day.  So following a long day we rush out to the closest fast-food establishment and pig out on the comfort foods that help us to drown our sorrows.  I am sorry if that hit a little too close to home…it did for me.

Many lives have been shortened because of this issue.  Dare I call it an often subconsciousness sin issue.  We eat our troubles away.  We eat the unhealthy foods because they are the quickest and most affordable to us.  We consume foods to make us happy when things are anything but happy.

I recognize that there are those who struggle with depression, eating disorders and other physical/psychological struggles that can lead to over-consumption.  We must be gracious and careful not to judge those who endure trials unknown to us.  Personally, I have struggled with this sin issue in my life (yes I call it a sin issue).  I don’t have some of the above physical/psychological issues but I have, at times, been a glutton.

two reasons gluttony is a sin in our army and should be address:
1) it can shorten the lifespan of soldiers and officers who over-indulge, and cause multiple health problems and issues which can be avoidable.

2) Our testimony and witness to others:  I am not saying that being overweight or indulging in some comfort food now and then can hurt your testimony, but long term evidence of gluttony can.  If we cannot abstain through controlled self-denial now and then how can we preach and teach about self-control and discipline to others?

Wrapping up these sins…
I understand some of these might be hot button topics, or perhaps a scab was just picked…sorry.  Again, it is not my place or anyone else’s place to judge.  I simply write this out of my own personal convictions and certain struggles I have faced while a soldier and officer in this army.  Dare I even add Gossip is another huge sin that we often talk about (pun intended) but seldom truly confront and uproot the problem.  There are other such struggles that we face as a body of believers and as individual soldiers.  We should be prudent, prayer and diligent in listening to the Lord and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us one person at a time.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4

Something more for our army world to ponder today, to God be the glory!

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3 Comments

  1. yup. ‘stepped on some toes, alright. Mine. Somehow the Founder’s exhortation to “go for souls and go for the worst” may not have applied to these (or so we thought). And Amen to the “meet n eat” culture that carelessly rises in the ranks; ours and others. Another thing that occurred as I read: these sins may be a little easier to sweep under the rug, when shouldering the ‘holier than thou’ mantle. “To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come!”

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