“The Princess and the Pea” is one of my favorite children’s stories. Do you remember the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale?
A prince wants to marry a princess—but she must be a real princess. After traveling the world without finding a real princess, he returns to his palace home. One stormy night a stranger knocks on the door. The king opens it to find a young girl dripping wet. He invites her to stay for the night.
The girl claims to be a real princess. The queen needs proof and devises a test, placing a small pea under the mattress on the bed where the princess will sleep. Then she piles twenty more mattresses on top, adding twenty feather mattresses also.
In the morning when the queen asks how she slept, the princess says she couldn’t sleep because of something hard in her bed, making her so uncomfortable and leaving bruises. Only a real princess would have felt that tiny pea!
A royal wedding joins the prince and his real princess, and they live happily ever after.*
That story is a good illustration of Psalm 5:4. “I know you get no pleasure from wickedness and cannot tolerate the slightest sin” (The Living Bible 1971).
Strong words. I wonder if we take them seriously. What if we really believed them?
Just wondering…what, in God’s eyes, would be among the slightest sins? Presenting a proud look? Harboring an ugly thought? Nursing a grudge? Speaking hurtful words? These are not major sins.Just wondering…what, in God’s eyes, would be among the slightest sins? Presenting a proud look? Harboring an ugly thought? Nursing a grudge? Speaking hurtful words? These are not major sins. Click To Tweet
Major sins would include awful stuff—like armed robbery or murder. Most of us are incapable of such appalling deeds. But the slightest sins flow through daily life pretty much unnoticed.
I have a vivid memory of the day God focused my attention on that category—slightest sins. I’d arrived at church late and frazzled by the Sunday morning routine, helping two young children get ready. Managing to calm my spirit, I began teaching the lesson to our couples’ Sunday school class by reading aloud the focus verse.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Although I’d read the verse many times, the meaning suddenly filled me with awe. Looking at the class in astonishment, I said, “What an extraordinary way to live!”
That verse initiated life change—slowly, as I learned to apply the teaching to my daily walk, desiring that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in God’s sight.
I started paying attention to the slightest sins in my life, knowing I could never in this flesh come close to God’s standard of perfection…but very much wanting to.
My ears became sensitive to comments by good people, saying, “I don’t think God wants…” to justify why they’d made a choice to do something he had clearly forbidden.
I noticed how quick we are to assure our scarred friends (and ourselves) that God loves and forgives the major as well as the slightest sins.
Yes! He absolutely does! But because of his great love for us, he gave us a guidebook (the Bible) and his indwelling presence (the Holy Spirit) to help us make good decisions and live without regret.
When someone says, “I don’t think God meant…” we know we’re getting opinion, not fact. If we truly want fact, we can find it in God’s Word. He said what he meant.
Has God become soft on sin? No! He hates sin. Sin nailed his Son to the cross! Of course he is concerned about the slightest sin because a little disobedience can cause a large disruption.Has God become soft on sin? No! He hates sin. Sin nailed his Son to the cross! Of course he is concerned about the slightest sin because a little disobedience can cause a large disruption. Click To Tweet
So how can we live clean and pure in an evil day? We can begin with two firm decisions:
“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” (Psalm 101:3a).
“…I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalm 17:3b).
And we can make Psalm 19:14 a daily prayer, relying on the power of the indwelling Spirit to make it so.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Would you tell me about a time when God focused your attention on an area that needed work and how he brought change? And please share this article with your friends!
* My Giant Story Book (Westport Corp., New York, NY, 1972)
(Scriptures from KJV unless noted)
© Dianne Barker 2020