Greatest and Worst

Mark 12: 28

One of the scribes came up and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

It is interesting that Jesus did not answer according to the question. The inquirer wanted to know which one commandment is the greatest. Jesus answered with two, love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself. He said the combination of these two are the greatest commandment. It was a bit of a cheap question as if to say, if I decide only to keep one commandment, which should it be. Intellectually, though, it is an interesting question, attempting to discern where God’s thoughts and priorities lie. Alternatively, I have wondered why no one ever asked him, “Which is the worst sin?”

How would you answer that question? How would God? We have a sense, don’t we, that there are little sins, and big ones. Some sins are worse than others. Murder, rape, idolatry, and adultery are biggies. The Apostle Paul gave us a list of “those things that are not proper, people having been filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unfeeling, and unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them,” (Romans 1: 28 – 32). He lumps lying, arrogance and gossiping with murder and haters of God, the latter of which obviously flies in the face of the one Great Commandment.

What do we say then? What are the categories of sin? Where do we draw the lines? Perhaps this is a question best answered each person for himself.