Much of my weekend so far has been spent grading papers, which is giving me a new appreciation for teachers and professors. In the future, if you get a paper or test back with food stains on it, don’t judge. Grading is hungry work.
Besides increasing my appetite, I’m finding it to be interesting in other ways. Many of the papers I’ve graded today have been about the seven deadly vices, which are things I don’t think about often–perhaps because doing so is not overly pleasant.
Anger. Lust. Envy. Gluttony. Vainglory. Sloth. Avarice.
Even the words have a menacing look to them, as though they might bare their fangs and hiss at me.
The thoughts, desires, and actions these words stand for are much more menacing than their letters.
As I read papers detailing some of these vices, it is hard to keep from cringing; my life is splayed across the page, in all the examples and stories. Even vices I would at first be quick to dismiss play some role, however small, in my day to day life. I’ve skimmed the book the students based their papers on–Glittering Vices, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung–and it is incredibly convicting. No one can completely deny the reality of these sins.
Yet in the book, and in these papers as well, I can’t help noticing shimmers of hope. Or, more accurately, grace. Hope because of grace.
Because though DeYoung’s words, and also my students’, cause me to squirm (and rightly so), there is much more to the story than being consumed by the menacing scourge of the seven deadly vices. DeYoung offers concrete suggestions for recognizing and combating them in our own lives, but they are meaningless without grace.
Grace that opens up the possibility of improvement.
Grace that offers a new way to live.
Grace that means my own inability to defeat these vices is covered by Jesus’ perfect ability to do just that.
Shimmers of grace that overwhelm the glitter of vices.
Til next time…