Have you ever actually fallen and landed on your face? I wish I could answer “no” to that question. I’d have to say “Yes.”

It happened just a few weeks ago. I tripped on a curb in Chicago because I was looking down at my phone, trying to understand Siri’s next direction toward my destination of Navy Pier. I’m not sure how I fell with so little damage from my 5’ 9” height – except to think that God mercifully protected me. However, I did actually land on my face after taking the first hit on my knee. I busted my lower lip and scrapped my upper lip. But didn’t break anything. Praise God. I could have broken my nose or busted some teeth.

This tumble was a very public spectacle and several strangers rushed over to help. I was equally grateful and mortified. 

What about sin? Has sin ever tripped you up and given you a “face plant” moment. Yea, me too. And sometimes, very publically. 

I found three Greek words translated “sin” in the New Testament. With very little difference, they have this selection of meanings:

  • to be without a share in
  • to miss the mark
  • to err, be mistaken
  • to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong
  • to wander from the law of God, violate God's law, sin

We can miss the mark, or wander from the path of uprightness or wander from the law. What do those three meanings have in common? I’d say, not watching where you are going.

My recent face plant was definitely a “miss the mark” moment. I was trying to step up onto the sidewalk. I missed in a big way. I wasn’t watching where I was going. I was distracted. 

And that is exactly how sin trips me up. I get busy with my job, with family, with exercise, with any one of scores of other things that claim my time and attention. Perhaps I miss some time in prayer or study time. I’m unfocused instead of being vigilant, as the Bible warns us to be in 1Peter 5:8 [NKJV] Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

In an interaction with another person, I might be focused on being right instead of gaining understanding. I might be looking at how hurt I am instead of hearing the other person’s pain. I might be worried about their actions instead of my own. Any of these can lead to sin. 

The Bible has a few things to tell us about watching. Here are some that jump out at me:

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak."

Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

1 Timothy 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others [do], but let us watch and be sober.

These scriptures seem to tell me that the key to avoiding sin is to watch where I am going – watch my thoughts, my heart, my words, my steps so that I don’t miss the mark or wander away from the path of righteousness.

I encourage you to do that as well, sister. And also, never look at your phone when you should be looking where you are going.

I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.