April 28: The Subtle Sinner

Joshua 19:10–20:9; 2 Corinthians 12:11–21; Psalm 57:1–58:11

Some sins slip through the cracks—the ones that emerge in hushed tones between like-minded Christians. Sometimes these sins seem respectable because they occur out of supposed concerns for the Church or others. But they can leave deep gashes in the life of a community because they often go unchecked. And it’s these sins that Paul addresses shortly before closing his letter to the Corinthians:

“For I am afraid lest somehow when I arrive, I will not find you as I want, and I may be found by you as you do not want. I am afraid lest somehow there will be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, pride, disorder” (2 Cor 12:20).

While the Corinthians were guilty of flagrant sins like impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness, they were also sinning in ways that subtly undermined Paul’s authority. Slander and gossip created deep divisions in the Corinthian church, just as they do in our churches today.

We often don’t realize we’re committing these sins until rumors reach the individual we’re gossiping about. Paul had been absent from the Corinthian community for some time. During his absence, dissenters slandered him. The Corinthians should have defended Paul while he was away, but instead, he was forced to defend his own ministry (2 Cor 13:2–3). He anticipated that his return to the community would reveal the true state of the situation.

Ultimately, these subtle sins were an attack on the good news—not just Paul. Because his integrity was brought into question, the authenticity of his message was also criticized. In addition, Paul was forced to address their sin before he could reach out to other communities with the good news (2 Cor 10:15).

The decisions we make on a daily basis can lead to division or unity in our community. And choosing to be a faithful peacemaker in the midst of divisive sins might have a bigger impact than we can imagine.

What are your subtle sins that are wrongfully condoned?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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