Western culture has traditionally recognized “7 Deadly Sins.” There was a time when most people knew them by heart, and when they were the focus of much preaching and moral training. These days those sins seem to characterize our society and, in some cases, are even celebrated as civic virtues–for which we are told we can credit our great material prosperity.
The Seven Deadly Sins are: pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed, and sloth.
In our culture we sport bumper stickers declaring us to be proud about something (usually something we can take no credit for, like what country we were born in). Envy and lust keep the advertising and television industries thriving. Anger is our primary mode of political discourse. And gluttony, greed and sloth have become characteristic identifiers of contemporary Americans.
The sad fact is that as a culture we are lazy, we are greedy and envious, we are gluttons and overconsumers, we are angry and lustful. We seem to generally like it that way. We are told that “greed is good.” Greed, envy and gluttony keep the wheels of capitalism turning. And I wonder if any of us have ever heard a sermon on gluttony?
The counter to these “seven deadly sins,” it seems to me, is what St. Paul called “the fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Imagine a world with more love and less pride, more peace and joy and less anger, more kindness and goodness and less envy and sloth, more patience and gentleness and less lust and greed, more faithfulness and less sloth, more self-control and less gluttony.
That would be a world more in line with the Kingdom of God. We look forward to the day when those “7 deadly sins” are completely replaced by the fruit of the spirit.
May it come to pass.