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 | By Allison Ramirez

Turn to Scripture for practical guidance


Seven deadly sins:

Pride - Greed - Envy - Lust - Wrath - Gluttony - Sloth

Despite the dire label of “seven deadly sins,” this list speaks to temptations that we, as Christians, struggle with each and every day. As we look at the last four – lust, wrath, gluttony and sloth – we continue to turn to Scripture, especially Jesus’ words and actions, for practical guidance. Each of these passages points to a way of greater love, truth and peace in the face of these human weaknesses.

From lust to love

In Matthew 19, we read how some Pharisees approached Jesus to test him, asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatsoever?” Jesus replies, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (3-6)

There is a divine destiny between man and woman, at times drawing them together beyond their own parents to a new life where they are no longer two but one in marriage. Every human being is made to love and be loved. One’s desire for physical intimacy is a gift from God, and can be sanctified by living fully united through the bonds of marriage.

From wrath to peace

In John’s Gospel, chapter 8, Jesus was in the midst of teaching when the Pharisees brought forth a woman who was caught in adultery, and they said to Jesus and the crowd: “Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?” (5) Although the bystanders are ready to take up their stones against this woman and her sins, Jesus challenges them and says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (7) One by one, each drops his stone and walks away.

Anger can consume us and push us away from others. Sometimes the anger is at another for doing us wrong, and we want that anger to spill over and result in vengeance for what we perceive to be justice. But Jesus calls us to choose love and forgiveness. Remember that Jesus does not let the woman go without first acknowledging her sin and telling her to sin no more. In Jesus’ correction of her, he speaks the truth in a calm, loving way; he prevents violence from having the final word. We are called to do the same, even in difficult situations.

From gluttony and sloth to modesty and attentiveness

We combine the last two deadly sins of overindulging (gluttony) and laziness (sloth) as both have to do with extremes, either of taking for ourselves more than we ought or of failing to contribute what we should through lack of effort.

Jesus speaks often in the New Testament of keeping heaven in perspective with regard to how we engage in this world and orient our actions. In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus warns against the risks of overindulging, saying, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life … and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” Here, Jesus reminds us that life, while beautiful, has many attractive temptations that distract us from what truly matters – our relationship with God and others. Getting caught up in extravagances distract us from our desire to serve the Lord well.

In Luke, chapter 11, Jesus provides an antidote to combat laziness, which is persistence. He says, “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (9) If we are idle and wait around to hear from God, we may be left empty-handed, for the Lord calls us to ask, seek and knock. We are also called repeatedly throughout Scripture to take up our crosses daily and follow Jesus – shouldering our burdens and persevering through our trials – not remaining stagnant or impassive.

 Allison Ramirez is a Catholic author, editor and teacher. She holds an M.A. in theology with an emphasis on Church History.

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