What are the 7 Deadly Sins and Why Should we care?

I am no saint.  Most days I find my struggles are so profane and well, human. I don’t want to yell when I am angry at my child.  I don’t want to start smoking again even when provoked by life.  I don’t want spend frivolously, and compulsively, on books or clothes.  I want to be more generous. To be less envious of the success of others.  To respond in love and hopefulness rather than “expect” someone to live up to the low opinion I have of them.  I’m just being honest here.  Life is a struggle!

My children asked the other day if “to lie” was a sin.  “What about to murder?” they asked.  What are the seven deadly sins, they wanted to know?

The only thing that I could remember in the moment was Sloth, probably because I struggle with laziness and lack of motivation at-home.   I struggle to do things that don’t interest me much, like laundry and other forms of housework; to train the dog even though it would make our lives so much better; to be consistent with my kids — book reading before computer, keep your room picked up, clean up after yourself!  I find it easier to just do it myself, than hassle with teaching the kids.

But somehow I could work in the garden all day long, in the burning sunshine, because it doesn’t feel like work.  I could pull a thousand weeds.  Or draw with my kids. 

I might write all day because it feels so wonderful to place one word in front of the other, in a way that I choose.  But sweep, mop, pick up and put away?  I’m loathe to do those things.

I could not remember what the Seven were, so I looked it up.

The Catholic church believes the Seven Sins are:

  1. Pride (or Vanity) is an excessive belief in our own abilities that gets in the way of our ability to recognize and experience the grace of God. Humility is seeing ourselves as we really are and not comparing ourselves to others.
  2. Envy is the desire for someone’s status, abilities, or life situation.  Generosity is letting others get the credit or praise. It is giving without having expectations of the other person. It is love which actively seeks the good of others for their sake. Envy resents the good others receive or even might receive. Envy is almost indistinguishable from pride at times.
  3. Gluttony is consumption of more than what you need, of anything really.
  4. Lust is a craving for the pleasures of the body above knowing and craving God.
  5. Anger (or Wrath) is the person who spurns love and opts instead for fury.   Its opposite, Kindness, is tender, patient and compassionate.
  6. Greed (Avarice or Covetousness) is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual.
  7. Sloth is avoiding physical or spiritual work.

Of course there is no “list” of seven in the Bible, though each of these are there in one form or another  If we truly understood how these qualities make us who we are, perhaps we would understand ourselves better and more importantly our effect on others.

I know this. Sin in our lives deadens our spiritual senses and we become slower to respond to God.  And then eventually we drift into complacency, apathy and even disbelief.

And the sad thing is that I am guilty.  Guilty of this and more.  Aren’t we all?

The good news is that the Grace of God offers me hope that not in my strength but with the power of the Holy Spirit I can forgive myself and I am forgiven.