Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" (part 2)

In part 1, I discussed the fact that we are not loving people well when we accept the sin...  (The TRUTH part of speaking the truth in love.)

Now I want to discuss the LOVING part of speaking the truth in love.  Otherwise, we're just Westboro "Baptist Church".  (I put those last two in quotes on purpose.  They are not a real church.)

We must be careful when we confront someone, or let someone know that something is a sin.

I find this a pretty simple procedure for me (even though I don't always follow it!)  The question is -- "How do I react when someone disagrees with me on this?"  If I am loving them, a decision to continue in sin will break my heart and drive me to prayer.  If I am simply being driven out of a desire to "be right," I will get angry.  All too often, I am speaking out of a desire to be right.

Am I gloating over how "wrong" the person is, how "holy" I am?  Am I behaving like the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14?  If so, I need to work this out FIRST, through prayer and repentance. 

Will I rejoice at their repentance because it restores (or brings them into) a relationship with God?  If so, then I can go ahead.

Also, I need to ask why the person should listen to me?  Have they seen my fruit?  Do I actually know them well enough?  Have I disqualified myself from speaking because of an unresolved wrong I have done to them?  All too often, we leave a comment on a FB post or a website that actually causes more harm than good.  Because our tone cannot be read, all too often, our comment is taken in the worst way imaginable.  We live in a world, in a society, that wants to see Christians in the worst light possible.  We must be careful not to malign the name of Christ.  Does this mean that we don't speak up, to stand for Christ?  NOT AT ALL!  I'm just saying to pray, check with God before you type, or speak.  Check your motivation.  Pray.  Pray before, pray during, and pray after.  And leave the results to God.

Monday, August 1, 2016

"Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" (part 1)

If you've been a Christian for more than about 15 minutes, you've heard the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin."  It's a paraphrase of a quote from Gandhi.  We can have a discussion on the wisdom of making a Buddhist quote into a tenet of our Christian faith, but that's a discussion for another time...

Today, I want to say that we, as Christians, are actually doing the opposite.  Or at the very least, we are encouraged to, often expected to.

Sadly, we have bought the lie that in order to "love the sinner" we must accept whatever sin is part of his or her life.  I'll use an example that relates close to me.

I easily fall into the sin of worry.  I tend to overthink, to obsess, and then to worry.  A true friend would lovingly ask me if I am worrying.  Something like this, "Yes, what you are dealing with is scary.  Are you trusting God to handle it, or are you spending your time in worry?  How are you handling this?"  Then, they might remind me of God's faithfulness, of His provision, even of His right to do as He pleases with me (even up to, and including, my death).  It wouldn't be easy to hear, no, but a true friend who loves me well would ask, gently and lovingly, where my heart was, and if I had fallen into sin.

The world, and many in the church, would tell us to say, "I understand your worry!  You have every right to worry about this, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just being 'judgey' and harsh!  Just tell them they aren't perfect either."  Sadly, too many times, we do just that.  But that's just an encouragement to sin.

We all have areas of sinfulness, things that tempt us and lure us in.  We need faithful friends who help us to really look at that sin and call it what it is.  We need honest Christians who will help us see the ugliness of disobedience and the separation it causes.  (Not eternal separation for the believer, but a breach in the relationship!)

All too often, under the guise of "understanding," we are the cause of a brother or sister stumbling, or continuing in sin!  This is a serious issue.  Understanding is all well and good, as well as a humble heart that says cries out "There but for the grace of God go I!"  But do not let us use that as an excuse to encourage sin!  Instead, let's warn each other lovingly, openly confess our weaknesses to those who love us enough to call us on our sin.  And then, let's not get prideful and angry when someone warns us.

With a heavy heart, I must say that we have decided to "Love the sin, hate the sinner."  Under the guise of love and acceptance.  Allowing someone you truly love to continue with harmful behavior without warning isn't love, or acceptance.  It's hating them.  Loving someone is wanting what is best for them.  The absolute best is an unhindered relationship with their Savior and God.  Under the guise of "acceptance," we are, all too often, encouraging fellow believers to harm that relationship or unbelievers to forgo that relationship altogether.  How scary would it be to get to eternity and hear that our actions actually hindered someone from coming to salvation!