If you look around the world today, whether that would be in your neighborhood, around your friends, or watching the news, you will see somebody doing something wrong. It could be as extreme as murder, someone stealing something, just being rude, or making fun of someone. There are too many things that we can do wrong, that its too much to list. Since we all live in this world, we can all understand that it is not perfect, and since its not perfect, there will always be someone doing something wrong. So how are we supposed to react to this?
Well if you ever went to Sunday school, you probably heard the saying, that we should love the sinners but hate the sin. I remember hearing this so many times that it got annoying. However, I believed it and growing up it made it easy for me to recognize the sin in others. I would think to myself, “oh they sinned again”! This would ultimately make me feel better about myself, because I could compare my flaws with everyone else’s. If someone sinned more often than I did, or made more mistakes then I did, I would immediately put myself on a pedestal.
As years went by, my attitude got even worse, and I would fool myself into thinking that I loved these people, but I just hated the sins that they did. This continued until I got convicted when reading Mathew 7:1-5, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
When I read this, I realized that what I was doing was wrong. Instead of loving them, I was in fact judging everyone. I think that phrase love the sinner, hate the sin should not be taught. It ends up giving ourselves authority to single out sin in others, and that turns into our focus. I think if they are going to use any kind of phrase, it should be to love our neighbors, while focusing on our own sin.
There was another story in the bible, that made this standout to me. In John 8:2-11 it says, At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
When I read this one, it made me feel even worse about myself. See, what we end up doing with the love the sinner hate the sin motto, we end up casting stones at everyone else. I have done this so many times that its ridiculous.
If we examine ourselves and our churches, I believe that we will see that we are all guilty of casting stones, just like the Pharisees did. There has been a lot of concern lately among Christians, why people are leaving the church in droves. I think that we have our answer from just these passages. We have been guilty of judging others so much, that we turn people off from the gospel. I asked some people why they refuse to go to church, and the number one answer is because of how judgmental Christians are.
This saddens me to think that we are pushing people away from our savior. I mean it’s supposed to be our job to lead people to Him! If we are labeled by the world as judgmental hypocrites, then what image does that portray when we try to tell people about Jesus? It makes it seem to them that Jesus is judgmental and hateful. We have gotten so far away from the true gospel that we need to remember the meaning. The gospel is a message of love to the entire world. It is God coming down and putting it all on the line for the people that He loves!
So, what can we do about this? I believe that it first starts with our hearts. We need to get rid of that judgmental attitude and stop looking at other people’s sins. Then we need to work on our relationship with Christ, so that He can help us with our own sins. Once we start growing in our faith, then we will experience the love of Christ, which then we can share to the world!
I urge you to never forget the God that we serve. He gave us the two most important commandments to live by. In Mathew 22:36-40 it says, Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
If we can learn to love like Jesus wants us too, then we can start changing the world!