Monday, 9 April 2012

Barriers to Sainthood: Sin

"Death, but not sin!" he cried out passionately many times during his earthly life.

He was so strong willed and good, and he sure hated sin.

Who was he?

We might think that such a statement might have come from a man or woman who was about to be crucified or boiled alive, or about to be eaten by lions.

But no, this was no man or woman. This was exclaimed by a child who died at 14!

His name was Dominic Savio, even better.. St Dominic Savio at that. What was it about St Dominic Savio that made him detest sin?

Of course it was, as we exclaim in the confessional, that he dreaded “the pains of hell”. But more than that! St Dominic hated sin “because it offends ...(God) who is so good”.
You may be wondering how we can know how much God hurts when we sin and this is absolutely essential knowledge. This should be our own principal deterrent to sin.

So how can you tell how offended God is?

Let’s think about people: When you hurt someone, you can usually tell by their actions, emotion, or words. What about if you don’t think they are hurt, but you genuinely want to know for sure.
What do you do? You ask them, don’t you?
But what about God?
God wants to have a personal relationship with you, and he always puts in effort.

As one of my favourite preachers Aneel Aranah once challenged us at a conference “You ask your mum, your dad, your family and your friends “How are you?”... But do you ever ask God?” The audience and I were shocked!
I’m sure 99% of people there had never asked God that question. I sure hadn’t.

So one day after this conference I asked God that question, and he didn’t respond but I kept asking him every day. He didn’t respond for about a year, but I still hadn’t given up, i persisted.

Then one day I asked Him, like always, with a genuine care for Him.

What He said changed my outlook on sin forever.

I said “God, how are you?” and He replied: “In the innermost pains of agony”

Suddenly I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of sorrow and started to cry. At that moment, I realised the horror of sin, and a little of the pain that God felt with every sin committed.

Therefore I made a resolution: I would take that prayer I said in the confessional, and I would “try my best not to sin anymore”. But this would be my real best, not the second rate “best” I had been opting for in the past.

As a result although I still sin, I now sin a lot less than I did before.

So was St Dominic Savio really serious when he said “Death, not sin!”? Absolutely.

St Dominic Savio knew the absolute agony that God goes through when He sees the sin of the world, probably much better than me. He was willing to die to sin by dying to himself. It’s taken me 24 years to seriously detest sin, but now I’m glad I do. I have become a much better person through this, and take offenses against God very seriously.

I encourage you to love the sinner, but as the saying goes, we should certainly hate the sin.

Are you willing to put away all evil ways and die to sin?

Are you willing to remove sin in your life to ensure God does not suffer because of your disobedience to Him?

Make up your mind now, but remember that God is “in the innermost pains of agony”, and does not deserve to suffer.

Let the story of young St Dominic Savio inspire you and when you feel tempted to sin, may you repeat in your heart: 

“Death, not sin!”