Does the title of this article grab your attention? Are you curious to know, What is Dave’s worst sin? What wicked deed will he confess? You already may be imagining the possibilities. Of course, if I wrote down all of the sins I ever committed, this page couldn’t contain them all.
While eating breakfast with a group of men in a restaurant the other day, I told them I planned to write an article about my worst sin. After some good-natured teasing about my shortcomings (as a group of guys can do), my friends offered several serious observations.
One commented, “The worst sin I can imagine is disloyalty—betraying the trust of God or the trust of someone else who loves you.”
Another friend suggested, “I think the worst sin is to plant a lie in the mind of another person. What could be worse than leading someone else astray?” He also reminded us of Jesus’ warning about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Another man at the breakfast table observed, “I’m not sure any one sin can be considered the worst because any unforgiven sin separates us from God.” To illustrate his point, he continued, “We picture our righteousness like a heart monitor with a line that goes up and down depending on how well we perform. But without God’s mercy, it’s a flat line. We’re dead without him.”
Each of my companions made good points. Who hasn’t overstepped the boundaries established by our Creator? All of us need to ask God to forgive our trespasses, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). And sin is more than outward lawbreaking; it reflects the inner disposition of our hearts. Even when we manage to avoid bad behaviors, we leave good things undone. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (4:17).
The Root of Our Transgressions
I told my breakfast companions, “I think my worst sin is selfish pride.” I hope you’re not shocked by my confession. Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has hinted that self-will trumps God’s will. Cunningly he whispers, “Why not follow your personal preferences rather than obeying God’s Word?” Adam and Eve’s struggle was much like yours and mine. Pride makes us think too lowly of God and too highly of ourselves.
I consider self-centeredness my worst sin because it seems so difficult to eradicate, and because it leads to so many other wrongs. For example, selfish pride spawns transgressions like ingratitude, greed, bitterness, irreverence, arrogance, unrighteous anger, a critical spirit, and hurtful speech.
Pride makes me self-righteous. It makes me stubborn, refusing to admit when I’m wrong and seek forgiveness. It makes me unloving, prioritizing self-interest over caring for others. Selfish pride doesn’t just offend God; it distorts reality, creating a charade where, instead of being honest about my limitations, I pretend that I’m in charge—as if I can handle things fine without the Lord. And pride keeps me from enjoying the blessings God reserves for the humble and contrite in heart.
Adam and Eve lost their home in God’s garden by swallowing forbidden fruit. The way back home requires us to swallow our pride.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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