As a small non-profit with a big mission, we rely on the generous gifts of supporters like you to help our ministry prosper and grow.



Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Saturday, November 21

[A]ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
—Romans 3:23

Few of us really like to talk about sin. After all, isn’t there enough negative conversation in the world already? Consumed as we are by the war in Iraq, unemployment, the future of Social Security, healthcare, corporate scandals, and global warming, we don’t really need to be focusing on something like sin as well. And yet, that’s exactly what we are doing.

If we can move beyond the notion that sin refers only to individual moral conduct—what another generation would have called “pleasures of the flesh”—then we might be able to see this. Granted, what we do with our bodies and how we treat them does matter. But for as long as most of us can remember, that’s been our only concern.

Ironically, when we look in scripture we seldom find God singling out an individual for reproof. There are cases, of course, but typically it’s a whole community being taken to task for something they have or haven’t done. Again and again, God’s people are referred to as “stiff-necked,” “foolish,” and “sinful,” deceived by “vanity,” motivated by “greed.” This is sin in its broadest sense.

Even if we believe that all God created is good, we can see that much in the world is broken. That break, that gap between what is and what could be, is what we refer to as sin. Individually, we fail daily to live up to the image of God in our hearts. 

We ignore the stranger, lose our patience with friends and family, use our power to bully and shame. Likewise, we ascribe status to the rich and, in contrast to the image we find in Luke, send the poor away empty. In time, such behavior becomes the norm; it’s what we expect from the world.

War, poverty, environmental degradation—they are the consequences of the sins we do not name. They are not inevitable, but they are failures of imagination, failures to see the image of God, whole and unbroken, in the world that God has made.

O God, deliver me from the habit of seeing sin in narrow terms, and give me the courage to name it not only in my community, but in myself as well.

These Signposts were originally published on in 2005.