Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sin Management Program

I admit it: I'm not much of a manager, nor am I very organized. I'm not one of those people who keeps a running to-do list and checks off each completed task. Most days I don't manage my children very well, much less household chores.

This week I've come across a new-to-me term three different times, in three different places: sin management.

The first time I read the term, I wondered what it meant. The second time I read it, I thought I should probably check it out. The third time I read it, I knew God was wanting my attention on the subject. I had a vague idea of what the term means, but I needed something to compare it with to help me better understand. So I decided to do a little research on time management.

Generally, time management refers to the development of processes and tools that increase efficiency and productivity. (

Hmmm...I realized that time management is something I strive for {especially during the school year}, but rarely succeed at. Honestly, my household is usually running around like crazy people when we're trying to get somewhere on time. It's only on rare occasions that I call myself efficient and/or productive. I say all that to demonstrate my lack of {time} management skills.

There are all sorts of other management skills: anger management, business management, pain management, stress management, etc.

The common theme of management is control. Sometimes we are managed by others; and other times, we manage people or circumstances. Effective management means there must be set goals with plans to achieve those goals. Often a contingency plan is required in the event that something goes awry with the first set of plans. And in order to achieve the goals at all, action is required.

Whew! That makes me tired just thinking about it!

Okay, so now that we've somewhat established that management uses goals, plans, and actions to control certain scenarios or circumstances, let's move on to that nasty little term sin management.

When I attended a Christian high school, I had to sign a pesky little sheet of paper at the beginning of the year. That paper stated that I would not engage in any of the listed activities the school deemed as "sins." My signature was supposed to guarantee my agreement to the school's rules {or perhaps a better term would be their sin management program}. Fear of punishment for breaking the rules is about the only thing that made me stick to my signed agreement.

As an adult, my fear of God's anger over my sin, as well as the swift and sure consequences He would heap upon me, kept me in a sin management program. But, remember, I'm not a great manager. Unfortunately, I felt I could never do enough or rid myself of enough sin to make God happy with me. So I focused my attention on managing other people's sins, which by the way, didn't work out too well either.

Eventually, I was so disheartened with endlessly trying to be sinless for God's approval and acceptance that I dove headfirst into a sinful lifestyle.

One day, I fell face-first on the floor, and told God I couldn't be a good enough Christian. Actually, without even realizing it, I was telling Him I couldn't manage my sin anymore. Basically, I left my striving {and all the guilt and shame that accompanies failed striving} at the foot of the cross. I had to stand up from that moment, trusting that the moment I entered relationship with God, He forgave all my sins (past, present and future).

What I'm realizing is that trying to control, or manage, sin is nothing short of ridiculous. When we give up the sin management program and realize no amount of sin control will cause God to love us more, we can trust Him to guide us. We can hand over control to God, and as a result, live in the loving, intimate relationship with Him for which we were created. Since I entered a covenant relationship with God, He no longer sees my sin when He looks at me; He sees Jesus.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. (Galatians 2:19-21, The Message)

I've only touched the tip of the iceberg on the subject of sin management. I'm reading quite a few articles and books on the subject, so I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on it later. I mainly just needed to process what I've learned so far. If you have thoughts/opinions on the subject, I'd love to hear them!


  1. Fantastic post, Rebekah! Melody and I call this journey the "beautiful undoing" and are so grateful to be off the performance treadmill that we were on for so many years.

    I chuckled a bit when I read about your experience at your school. That illustrates so well that when we are focused on our behavior and performance to earn God's favor, we have a very, very small view of sin. When we finally come to believe the scandal of grace...that we are loved as we are in spite of what we do...we are free to go deep into our brokenness and see the painful reality of our sin. Grace wasn't amazing to me when I thought I was a small sinner. Grace became amazing when I became honest about what was true about me.

  2. I think I'm down to a slow walk on the treadmill, trying to jump off. ;-) I hadn't thought of it as having a "small view of sin," but that's exactly it! And your last sentence sums it all up for me! Love your insight!!

  3. I love Traylor's last two sentences. Yes! Yes! Yes! A small view of sin. Great thoughts.