Sins of Addition

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If you’ve been around church for awhile, you are probably familiar with the terms “sins of commission” and “sins of omission”. In case you aren’t, sins of commission are those we knowingly commit, things we do on purpose. Sins of omission, on the other hand, are those things we know we should do but don’t. I recently was introduced to a third type, “sins of addition”. The term was coined by Alicia Britt Chole, a new author to me, but one who I am immensely enjoying. Alicia wrote, “We all guard against sins of commission and we are vigilant toward sins of omission.

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But achievements—even in small doses—can make us vulnerable to sins of addition: adding niceties and luxuries to our list of basic needs, adding imaginations onto the strong back of vision, adding self-satisfaction to the purity of peace.”

Without a doubt, I have fallen into sins of addition. I have been blessed beyond anything I ever would have imagined or deserved. Each new success brings new opportunities for comfort and additional chances to find something new you could never then imagine living without. I’m not a materialistic person, at least I’ve never considered myself to be one. My wife and I enjoy giving more than anything else, so it becomes easy to distance myself from thinking I’ve become materialistic. I’ve also made a conscious effort to not upgrade our style of living whenever we happen to get a raise or earn more money. Still, there have definitely been additions to my life. Reading Mrs. Chole’s statement made me pause and do an accounting of my relationship with stuff.

On the bright side, self-satisfaction is not something I encounter easily. To my detriment, I am rarely (ever?) satisfied with myself or the world around me. I always want to be closer to God, more in tune with what He is saying, and more effective in encouraging others to devote their lives to Christ. I would consider myself a bit more susceptible to new imaginations, dreams perhaps more of my making than of God’s. It is a regular battle to discern the difference between the two.

Sadly, the adding of niceties and luxuries would be my weak point. I don’t live extravagantly by the measure of most. I’m a minimalist at heart and am ever striving towards that mark. Yet I’m amazed at the number of conveniences I now pay for which would have been out of reach in the past. To be fair, most of these allow me to free up the time to write but there’s a thin line here which easily drifts towards rationalization. Our time is another area in which we must be vigilant against sins of addition. We must zealously guard our time with God and avoid adding too many things to our plates.

How about you? Do you suffer from any sins of addition? What have you allowed to creep into your life you know needs to go? All our worth and value is found in Jesus. We need nothing more than Him. When we begin adding things of convenience or comfort into our lives, we could subconsciously be implying our lives are not complete. When we add commitments to our life, we must be careful we are not making those commitments more important than the time we reserve to spend in God’s presence. It’s important we keep a healthy distance between our stuff and our souls. We need to regularly review what we’ve let in to guard against any sins of addition.