Everyone has heard of the seven deadly sins, there has even been a movie about them, but how often do you hear about ways to fight them?
The seven deadly sins – pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust – tend to be strong characters for several films, comics, cartoons and more, but they are most often taken lightly, with no regard to the seriousness of the downward spiral each can take a person.
Pride has broken families apart, greed has torn humanity to shreds and envy keeps people from feeling the joy God has for each of us – so how can we fight these sins and live for God?
We can spend days discussing ways to battle sin, but please take a moment to review the following list as a quick-and-easy guide to help all of us stay on the right path. To follow God, we must:
Admit we’re wrong
We can battle pride by accepting the fact that no human has, or ever will be, perfect save for Christ. It’s alright to fail sometimes – as a matter of fact, failure is necessary to accomplish goals. It breaks us down from having large egos and builds us up again when we choose to try again.
When you’re having an argument with your spouse or children, don’t stubbornly hold your ground when you know deep down that you’ve made a mistake. Accept the loss, apologize and allow yourself to move forward.
Accept we can’t have everything
We work hard, save our money and buy the things we desire – but someone else will always have more to their name.
Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t going to bring joy. God tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that “love is never jealous,” and loving our neighbors is one of the Ten Commandments.
So the next time you begin to feel envious of what others have, take a look at what God has blessed you with and say a short prayer of thanks. Ask God to change your heart and allow you to be grateful for the blessings He has bestowed upon you. Pray that God help you along your journey in life, and repeat the prayer every day until you realize that you no longer oversee the gifts He has given.
Calm down, count to ten and breathe
Wrath is an ugly sin. People often lament the rapid conclusion of an important relationship following vengeful words spoken in anger.
What’s worse is how easily anger can escalate to manifest itself in the physical realm. People who have trouble containing their rage have punched holes through door, thrown expensive items to the floor and have even lashed out at loved ones.
Don’t let anger control you!
God has a plan for us all. Part of that plan is allowing us to learn about who we are and who we want to be. God is with us every step of that journey. If you notice you are struggling with anger, ask God to help you control yourself and, though it sounds juvenile, remind yourself to count to ten while angry.
Do so mentally at a slow tempo while deeply inhaling, holding for a moment, then exhaling.
Talk to a loved one or to your church’s leadership if you need someone to hold you accountable, and teach yourself how to accept that not everything is going to work out the way you want it to. That’s not always such a bad thing.
Life isn’t all about us
Our actions and priorities affect those around us.
With that in mind, know that every time you choose to be lazy instead of meeting the friends you made plans with weeks in advance, you are hurting your relationship with them.
When you choose to stay in your pajamas playing games or watching movies all day, your relationships suffer, as does your waistline.
Being lazy doesn’t necessarily limit itself to refusing to attend social functions – being lazy includes the refusal to listen when God tells you to take a few hours each week to help feed the hungry or go to the bank to get some cash to donate to a good cause.
Keep yourself mentally and physically active by participating in outreach events. Pray for people in your spare time, do God’s work and keep yourself from allowing the sin of the sloth overcome you!
The more we give, the more we get
It is difficult to share when we feel we’ve earned something. Sometimes that greed manifests itself in obvious ways, such as ignoring a homeless person’s plea for food, but sometimes greed remains hidden from others. Sometimes we can be greedy without realizing it because everyone thinks of money when they think of greed.
You are being greedy when you choose to skip church to sleep in because you over-indulged the night before, despite knowing you had Mass the next morning. You are being greedy when you tell people you are too busy to spend time with them, then sit for hours at your computer accomplishing nothing.
God tells us not to be greedy, to help our fellow man and to give of ourselves. Jesus’ life was an excellent example of how to give.
When you catch yourself hiding the last cookie or refusing to feed the hungry, ask God to help you do the right thing – then do it.
Food is great, but God is greater
Do you have a love-hate relationship with food? What about a love-love relationship?
If you’re anything like me, you wake up and you immediately plan your breakfast. While you’re preparing it, you’re snacking and thinking about what you’ll have for lunch.
Perhaps you have a problem with gluttony.
Such a lifestyle can lead to an imbalance between your physical and mental health, both of which affect those around you.
When you start buying larger sizes, it’s easy to see a drop in your self-esteem. When you feel low, those around you notice. This can spiral into depression, which also pushes friends and family away.
To avoid gluttony, remind yourself that you don’t need to finish the whole meal you ordered for lunch. Leftovers can be properly warmed so your food isn’t chewy or dry. You don’t need to eat when you’re bored. Try to do something else, like mental math or do something more engaging to keep yourself from snacking.
Sex is temporary -love is eternal
It is easy to see an attractive person and feel good about what you see, but there is no reason you should be undressing people with your eyes.
Not only is this inappropriate, but it is also a gateway to other, more intense lustful thoughts and activities.
“Look but don’t touch” is always a good standby. Appreciating the human form is normal, but watching pornography and tempting yourself with an extramarital relationship goes beyond appreciation and falls into the “lustful” category.
If you find yourself lusting after someone who is not your spouse, consider taking time to work on yourself. Try speaking to a church leader or close friend or family member.
Dig deep. Why do you feel the way you do? What are your end goals? What might these desires be masking?
It is easy to give in to temptation, and nearly all the deadly sins involve just that. Giving in. When you feel yourself yielding to these sins, pray, ask for help and work on changing the habits that lead to such opportunities. Remember, God is always there to help.