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The Little Sins that Don’t Matter

The Little Sins that Don’t Matter

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Leviticus 10:1-2

My last relapse didn’t begin with opioids. Rather, it began with tobacco. Previously, I’d come to recognize that to find authentic recovery, I needed to abstain from all chemicals: alcohol, opioids, and tobacco. Later though, I convinced myself that tobacco was harmless. I even argued that tobacco was a good thing – If I just have this one little bad habit, it will satiate my appetite for chemicals and keep me from using opioids. That was absurd of course. For me, indulging in one self-destructive chemical inevitably led back to opioids. I thought that I could make up my own rules for recovery – that I could do it my way. Now, I know better. I don’t get to indulge in some chemicals and remain in recovery. Tobacco may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, it’s use would represent a step towards full-blown relapse.

In today’s passage, priests Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, painfully discovered that they didn’t get to make up their own rules either. In the story, God instructed his people how to offer a proper sacrifice to him, at which point the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people (Leviticus 9:23). Nadab and Abihu witnessed this phenomenon, and they wanted to recreate it. We don’t know their motives, but they tried to circumvent the rules by making their own fire instead of using the perpetual fire from the altar, as God had commanded. It may seem like a trivial detail, but it offended God in such a way that fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them.

I often prefer to think that the little sins don’t matter. Whether it involves tobacco, anger, lust, or pride, I like to tell myself that it’s no big deal. At least I’m not using drugs. For me though, surrendering in one area inevitably spills over into other areas. One failure breeds more failure. Lack of self-control is metastatic, spreading throughout my life. So, if I desire to pursue faith and remain in recovery, I must recognize that the little things matter. Daily then, I must analyze my thoughts and actions asking if I’m moving towards God and the new life, or if I’m taking a step backwards, towards relapse. I don’t ever want to go back to that misery, so today, and every day, I must continually work on killing my self-destructive thoughts and behaviors – even the little ones.

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