Maybe I should start by defining my terms.
Sin: “transgression of divine law”
Sinner: Anyone who sins. In short, “human beings.” All of us.
Why do I say all of us sin? We humans tend to think we know best. We usually ignore God’s principles when we believe some forbidden action or attitude will make us happy or meet our needs.
But suppose there’s a very good reason for divine law. What if God knows best how life works? What if he has the authority to tell us how to live, knowing we’ll be better off if we cooperate?
He would hardly be a loving God if he didn’t warn us.
Sometimes Christians offer that warning, and are called “intolerant.” You may have heard of Christians defending their criticism–of, say, binge drinking or sexual immorality or gossip–by claiming to “hate the sin, but love the sinner.”
Then their critics jump up and say, “You don’t mean that. You’re just using the saying as an excuse for your judgmental attitude!”
And sometimes the critics are right. We can be unloving and judgmental. And try to rationalize our motive, or hide it behind a slogan that sounds more “spiritual” than the truth.
But let’s not start with “hate.” Let’s start with “Love.”
Again, suppose the danger of sin is real? And suppose you see someone you love deliberately pursuing some sin?
You know the behavior is actually self-destructive because the person will face unpleasant consequences for it.
What do you do–warn them, or let them walk blindly into danger and leave them to deal with the fallout?
As near as I can figure, If you love the sinner, you have to hate the sin because you know it’s a trap. Even if the other person can’t see it. Not caring about what will happen to someone is not love.
If you love someone, you warn them of danger. You warn them with concern and compassion, not with arrogant self-righteousness. Especially if the danger is from sin. Because you remember that you, too, are a sinner. Just like everyone else.
Next time I’d like to share some observations about how Jesus interacted with sinners of various stripes. Meanwhile…
… thanks for reading!
PS: I’m linking up with the sweet women of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.