Outside my window, a lawn service is cleaning up the autumn leaves — for the fifth time. The total number of leaves is enormous, and the faces on the lawn crew show their astonishment. Though they’ve come five times, they found us inundated every visit.
This situation has made me ponder some things about sin. For example, growing up in a Christian setting is advantageous in many ways. There are life-damaging sins that need not be committed, the consequences of which need not be incurred. The pliable nature of a saved child can be formed into Christlike preferences and habits. What a precious testimony is made possible by a lifelong relationship with the Lord.
However, every convert, young or old, must recognize and remember this truth: Each of us has many sins. Using figurative language, the Bible says they are countless (Psalm 40:12) — somewhat like the autumn leaves.
When I came to Christ as a child, my sins were many. Some wrongs I hadn’t committed yet and some I’d never commit. But a canopy of sinful desires and behaviors had already begun to fall upon me, leaving me buried enough to need a Savior. Whether my pile of sins was measured at age fifty, twenty, or ten, it would have been an astounding total — more than anyone could withstand (Psalm 130:3).
Compounding our “pile” considerably, James argues that breaking just one command of God’s law is the equivalent of breaking them all (2:10). This is because what matters most isn’t what we violate but whom we violate: God (v. 11). We do this by committing just one sin, because, by its very nature, sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2), the only source of life (Nehemiah 9:6). Even a “lightweight sinner” is dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1).
How many ways did Jesus say it? He’s the water of life (John 4:14) and the bread of life (6:35). He is life (11:25; 14:6) and was sent that we might have life (3:16; 10:10) — what every sinner needs.
Because conversion drastically decreases the incidence of sin in people’s lives, we Christians can easily join the Pharisees and the disciples in viewing ourselves as less in need of a Savior than others (Luke 5:30; 15:1, 2; 9:51-55). How wrong we are, though, to think we stop sinning. The Bible is clear that this isn’t the case (Proverbs 20:9; 1 John 1:8).
Praise God that my salvation stops me from engaging in so many different sins, but I have still been forgiven much and will continue to be forgiven much. My pile of sin — past, present, future — would be enough to doom me to an eternity without God. To be forgiven this amount is much indeed! I don’t want to lose sight of this, ever, because Jesus said, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47). None of us has been or will be forgiven little. God forbid that we think it.
Every spring when seemingly countless leaves begin to bloom, that’s exactly how many will drop to the ground in the fall. What a reminder of how much Jesus accomplishes the moment He saves us. The Old Testament praises God who forgives all our sins (Psalm 103:3), and the New proclaims the same (Colossians 2:13). How thankful I am that my pile isn’t too big — that no pile is too big.