Proverbs distinguish between mistake, sin

By Judy Brandon: Local columnist

What is the difference in a mistake and a sin? It seems to me that a mistake is putting the whites in with the dark colors in the wash. A mistake is adding five eggs to the cake batter when the recipe only calls for two. A mistake is forgetting to carry the 2 in a math problem or failing to pay a bill of $25.11 by writing a check for $2.51. But what is a sin?

The Ten Commandments give 10 charges about behavior and attitudes we should have and are the basis for many laws. Our culture and society have been greatly influenced by these commandments. They are specific and define the boundaries of civility in society. They give direction for man’s relationship with God and man’s relationships with neighbors. Yet, a few scriptures list seven specific sins that God hates, and those are found in Proverbs 8.

First the writer of proverbs says that God hates haughty eyes. This does not mean physical eyes but the attitude that a person maintains. Think about the statement: “She looks down on everybody.” It might be said that a person with haughty eyes would be arrogant, conceited and puffed up with self importance. She treats everyone with little respect. A person with a haughty attitude can’t really hide his or her arrogance. A person can even be self righteous and have a haughty attitude.

Another thing the author says that God hates is a lying tongue. This is a commandment in Exodus but James in the New Testament also addresses it. He wrote about people who gossip and spread rumors and he was very specific about the gravity of this sin. The consequences of lying and gossiping are devastating.

The third thing that the writer lists is hands that shed innocent blood. Of course “Thou shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) is well know in the commandments. But think of the ways that innocent blood is shed in America today -from before birth to street crime.

Fourth, the writer says God detests a heart that devises wicked schemes. Jesus told His hearers that what we say starts with thoughts in the heart. James also says that an evil desire starts in the heart and then by nurturing it, it grows and gives way to sin. Wicked schemes do originate from the heart.

The fifth thing in the list is feet that are quick to rush into evil. Some people are swift to follow evil desires and schemes. They seem to gravitate toward immoral and nefarious activity and waste no time getting involved.

For six, the author mentions lying again. A false witness who pours out lies is serious. The courts even recognize a false witness as punishable by fines and jail time. Another example would be a person who gossips under the guise of “concern.”

Last, the author notes a man who stirs up dissension among the brothers. Anytime groups are together — churches, clubs, organizations, schools, the workplace — there always seems to be someone who can stir up a big controversy by just talking to many different people. They feed the atmosphere with doubt, suspicion and innuendo. By the time they talk to everyone concerned, the level of dissension and frustration and anger becomes a major problem for every one involved.

The writer of Proverbs gives some good advice on the things that God hates and these things are not mistakes — they are sins. These particular things can be found in Proverbs 8:16-19 and there is no doubt to their clarity.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:
cbrandon@plateautel.net