Best of Daily Reflections: Stuck in the Cycle of Sin

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Meanwhile, the rest of Jacob’s sons arrived. Finding the men slaughtered, they plundered the town because their sister had been defiled there.

Genesis 34:27

Genesis 34 is rife with dishonor and deception. First, Shechem, a gentile prince, rapes Jacob's daughter, Dinah, but then falls in love with her and wants to marry her. Jacob seems oddly unmoved by this horror, but his sons were furious. So they hatched a deceitful plot to get revenge, not only upon Shechem, but also upon all of his people. The sons promised that Shechem could marry Dinah if he and all of his fellow townsmen were circumcised. They agreed to this proposal, but with the intent of ultimately seizing all of Jacob's property. While the townsmen were recovering from circumcision, Dinah's brothers slaughtered them, taking their possessions, wives, and children as booty. Jacob was furious with his sons because he himself was dishonored by their treachery. But the sons stood their ground, angry at their father for his apparent nonchalance over their sister's shame. Thus endeth the reading.

As I reflect on this sad story, I'm reminded, first of all, of how we can get stuck in the cycle of sin. For example, someone wrongs a friend in a church group. The wronged party, rather than doing what Jesus commands and going to the perpetrator to reconcile, gossips to her friends. Soon everybody in the group takes sides. Unkindness and unforgiveness abound, crippling the group's ministry. One single sin led to another, to another, and to another. This sort of thing happens all the time, in churches and families, among friends and colleagues.

What can set us free from the seemingly endless cycle of sin? God's grace, at work in our hearts, can help us to do the right thing, even if we stand alone. Scripture shows us how to act rightly, even if everyone around us wallows in sin. Choosing to do that which honors God is always right. But it can also bring reconciliation and healing to broken relationships and organizations.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever found yourself in a situation like that of Jacob's family, where sin abounds? What was your role in this? What might you have done to set things aright? Do you find yourself in a difficult situation today, where acting rightly will be risky, even costly? Are you willing to break the cycle of sin and do that which is right?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, as you look upon us, how often your heart must be grieved by our behavior. Though our sins may never be as obviously vile as those we read about in Genesis 34, nevertheless, we often respond to sin by sinning ourselves. The cycle of sin spins out of control, devastating our lives, our families, our churches, our businesses, our society.

Forgive us, Lord, for the times we repay evil for evil. Help us, by your strength, to turn the other cheek. Guide us to do that which is right, even if we must stand alone against the tide of sin. Give us courage to honor you in all things. Teach us to love, not only our friends, but even our enemies. May we be truly the salt of the earth, the light that shines in the darkness, by your grace and for your glory. Amen.