When we are speaking seriously of attributes of character, we must necessarily enter into the realm of subjectivity. What makes an action generous is unique to the actor much more than the act. The widow’s mite is generous in a way the lavish donations of the rich Pharisees aren’t.

And what is true of generosity is true of many other attributes as well; courage, for example, can be manifested in something as simple as crossing a street; kindness in withdrawing from all society; commitment in fleeing from responsibility. The complexities involved in the attribution of character to specific, real individuals are the material for novels, not flippant judgment.

The same is true of sin, of being sinful, in the Christian sense. From the world’s point of view, sin refers to various violations of one moral/religious code or another. These all establish lists of or criteria for prohibitions, and sin consists in defying the prohibitions; and they are all general in the sense that anyone who violates the prohibitions is ipso facto sinning, is a sinner.

But from the Christian point of view, sin refers to one thing only, and it is something utterly unique to the individual. My sin is very different from your sin; it is not even possible for you to commit my sin.

Sin from a Christian point of view is anything that runs counter to the achievement of the special revelation of Himself that God entrusts to each individual. That’s why a murderer may be less sinful, from God’s point of view, than a worldly saint.

That’s why tax collectors and prostitutes may lead the parade into heaven. (Matthew 21: 31)

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