by J. Gerald Harris

Are Some Sins Worse Than Others?
J. Gerald Harris

There is a story told about a pastor who advertised his sermon title several weeks in advance. And the title of the sermon was ''The 752 Worst Sins.'' On the day that sermon was to be preached, the worship center of the church was packed out. Every seat was taken. Rumor had it in the community that there were a lot of people who knew about most of the sins, but they were afraid they were missing out on a few and wanted to make sure that they had a complete list.

Now, I hope that is not your philosophy. We do not need to find out what sins we can commit. We need to find out what sins we can avoid. We need to make sure that we're not falling into the devil's trap, that we do not become entangled in his web of deceit. We need to make sure that we make wise decisions. And it's often just a matter of choices.

I heard about a young man of 32 who had been appointed president of the bank. He approached the venerable chairman of the board and asked for advice. The old man came back with just two words: ''right decisions!''

The young man responded, ''That's really helpful and I appreciate it, but can you be more specific. How do I make right decisions?''

The wise old man simply responded, ''Experience.''

The young man said, ''Well, that's just the point of my being here. I don't have the kind of experience I need. How do I get it?''

Back came the terse reply, ''Wrong decisions!''

And, you know, some people seem to make more wrong decisions and worse decisions than others. But are some sins worse than others? Are some mistakes worse than others?

Now, in the earlier centuries of the Christian church, more time and effort was spent on the question of whether some sins were worse than others. And a system of theology was established which may be more familiar to those of a Roman Catholic background than others who come from a Protestant or non-church background.

For example, there were venial sins. ...

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