God abhors our sin. Sin is that thing that we, humanity, allowed to pull our eyes away from God. We took our eyes off of Him; and that was just the start. We turned in a different direction. We messed up (and we continue to).
Only what is perfect and holy may come into the presence of God. But we are dirty people. We are sinful. We are full of faults. We are far from perfect, and we mess up more often than we care to admit. Sometimes we sin in ways we would rather not confess. We have this buildup of gunk that doesn’t belong in our lives.
From all that gunk, we are in big trouble. All that crap makes us imperfect, unholy people–seemingly hopeless. Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. In enters this crazy thing called grace. I’ve heard it described as
The same God that knows the depths of our hearts, our every action and thought, and our mistakes and failures, still chooses to love us. Because He is love.
Grace is this great thing that God has poured out for each of us through his son, Jesus. In the book of Romans we are told, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So he knows that we are full of all that gunk, and He still chose to make a way for us to come into His presence. That sounds a lot like love. That sounds a lot like that thing called agape, which refers to unconditional love. God is not superficial, He is as real as they come. He is very serious about pursuing our hearts. He wants us to be citizens of Heaven. He wants all of us. And He has made that very clear through the gift of His son Jesus. Through Jesus, through this thing called grace, God has provided a way for us to be seen as perfect and holy. This means we can come into His presence!
[The name of Jesus, His life, His love, and His story, have been made known ever since He walked the earth. I encourage you to take the time to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, whether you’re a follower of Christ, or someone who wonders why so many people care about that long book (The Bible)]
So, now I’ve had the chance to share with you the super abridged version of what sin is, what the gospel is, the love of God, and the life of Jesus. Awesome. Talk to me if you have any questions or things to discuss! [Or look into it more; I promise it is worth your time.]
All of that to preface what I want to share regarding the fairly well-known saying of, “hate the sin, love the sinner.”
Ever heard that line before? My bet is that 9/10 of you have, Christ follower or not. If almost everyone has heard it, how did it claim the title position of this post? Well, let me explain.
This is something we have seen on signs in front of churches, heard from behind the pulpit or up on stage, or discussed in a Bible study or small group. But why? The best answer would likely be because it is what the Bible tells us to do. We are to turn from the ways of this world as we are being transformed through the renewing of our minds. This happens as we grow in relationship with our Savior. Also, we are called to love God and love others. We are to give Him our heart, soul, mind, and strength (aka everything). We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (think about how much love that really is…it is a ton), considering all those around us as our neighbors. We are even called to love our enemies.
It sounds like I just defended all six words in this monumental, ever-so-common saying. It sounds like I just discussed scripture that when logically inferred, points to the fact that this saying is a pretty good one. Well……………yeah, pretty much. That’s what just happened. But here is my question. My question for you, my brother or sister in Christ, is this: why is it that we so often stop after those first three words?
Why is it so easy for us to get caught up in hating the sin of our classmate, family member, friend, teammate, etc., that we throw love out the window and choose to condemn.
We get so caught up in declaring a lifestyle, a habit, a struggle, an action, or a fault in someone else as incomprehensible, that we never make it past the comma in, “hate the sin, LOVE the sinner.” Sometimes we just outright hate. Sometimes we choose not to show love. Sometimes we feel like someone is a hopeless cause and we don’t reach out to them. It’s a sad confession, but I’ve been that guy.
The fact is, we were all just as hopeless before relationship with Jesus. Another fact is that there is no one beyond the reach of His outstretched arms. Yes, I am saying Jesus has really long arms. He longs to embrace everyone of us. Casting Crowns worded it this way:
Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ
The fact is, we need to be focusing on the love part of that quote. Yes, God is completely apart from sin. It’s detestable to Him; but He also cares for every soul and the struggles they face, and He made a way. He has shown great compassion towards each of us, evidenced in Jesus.
Those of us that are a part of the body of Christ are to be pursuing the lives of those who don’t know Him. That’s what being His hands and feet looks like. Those who know Him are citizens of His kingdom. I have a secret for you: In the kingdom of Heaven, once you become a citizen, you also become a citizen-maker. Fortunately for every one of us, God’s kingdom has no max occupancy sign posted on the wall by the local fire chief. If there were, it would read: Max Capacity–Limitless. That is reason to rejoice. That is reason to live an abandoned life, focused on love far above condemnation. You guys, the rooms do not fill up!
I’ll also say that while we seem quick to condemn and point out the failures, the past mistakes, the habitual wrongs, and the poor decisions of others, we sure do skip right over our own sin. The Bible tells us very clearly that we have all sinned and don’t make the cut. It tells us that nothing but Jesus’ blood makes us clean, perfect, and holy. It also tells us in James that not one of us has complete control over ourselves. We all need grace because we just can’t be perfect on our own. We all need Jesus.
Everyone that chooses to accept the salvation that is found in Jesus has a new identity, citizen of the kingdom; we are marked as His beloved. And a great price was paid for each person we come in contact with, even though they may not know it. God never gave up on us, and we shouldn’t be giving up on the people around us either. Step out of the familiar and share Jesus. Great expressions of love have been known to draw people into the family of believers; so do that. Love extravagantly.
I challenge you to love the people around you with Christ-like love, remembering that He died for every one of us while we were still sinners. And we are still sinners. And He still loves us. He calls for His followers to leave their old ways behind, but He is with each of us every step of the way. And He loves us right where we are. We need to show people what the love of Christ looks like. His grace isn’t just enough for us (it doesn’t run out), His grace is sufficient for each of us and for each of our struggles. People need to be introduced to the love and the saving grace of Jesus.
So I encourage you to love God, and love others. Not quietly, not secretly. Love God and love others with abandon. Step out. Reach out. Show it. Speak it. And when you have the opportunity, disciple someone in the ways of God and what His word tells us. In loving others, we are 100% more likely to bring them closer to the heart of God, than if we first condemn them.
The saying should be “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” While hating the sin is perfectly correct, loving the sinner can change someone’s eternity. Choosing to start with love is an important first step; realizing that we are each just one sinner loving others, in hopes that more people will come to know our Savior.
SWAG: Saved With Amazing Grace