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Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Earlier I tried to write a post about the tragedy at Newtown, but even as I wrote it, I recognized how flat it was. I read a number of posts various people have put forth. None of them resonated with me. I determined that I needed to be quiet for a few days. To think; to listen; to pray. We shall never know what complex influences, inner demons, or mental issues combined to drive Adam Lanza to commit these horrible acts. If he had lived, he might have been able to provide an explanation that made sense to him, but I doubt anything he could have said would have satisfied the rest of us.

Out of all the complex emotions I have experienced, one thought keeps coming back to me. In various forms I have said it before, and it is what I would leave you with. We have become a nation in which hate is not only acceptable; often it is considered a virtue. We feel that if our cause is right, we are allowed to hate those who oppose it. Republicans, democrats, gay rights advocates, evangelical Christians, on and on goes the list of people we feel it is okay to hate.

I am a Christian, which means I am commanded by God to love even my enemies. That is not a command to have warm fuzzy feelings about people whose beliefs or practices are repugnant to me. It is a command to love them in the Greek “agape” sense. This means that I wish and will work for the best for every human being I encounter. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS!

While unconditional love is simple to understand, it can be terribly difficult to practice. Yet we dare not become satisfied with anything less.

We must stop hating other people. It is that simple, and it is that hard.

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Have you ever heard that phrase, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner”? What do you think about it? Is it practical?  Is it possible to hate sin, while at the same time loving the sinner?

At the very least, can we admit that most of us do a really lousy job of it? This is especially true if someone has “sinned” against me. I still remember something that happened to me many years ago. I don’t want to go into the details, because there are people still living who might know about it. I can finally say that I forgave the individuals involved, but it took years. There were two reasons why it took so long. First, those who opposed me did so anonymously. They expressed their opposition behind the scenes. And, for that reason, I never really knew whom to forgive. Also, my pride was involved. I was hurt so deeply that truthfully I did not want to forgive. That’s my story. I suspect you have your own. Make no mistake, forgiveness is not for the weak. It takes strength to forgive. And it most certainly takes strength to forgive someone who has hurt you unfairly.

But can we truly love someone, especially someone who has said or done something to hurt us? Is that even possible? I don’t know where I got the answer. It came so many years ago that I cannot now provide the source. I only know that it had to have been given to me. It’s too good for me to have come to on my own.

The truth is that if I am truly a Christian, I quite easily hate the sin, but love the sinner. It’s really not hard. As a matter of fact, I do it virtually every day without even thinking about it, to one person—myself.  But you see when I “sin” against someone else, there’s always an explanation for my behavior.

“I was tired.

“I wasn’t feeling well.

“They hurt me in the area in which I am most sensitive.

“I had already been pushed to the limit. It was just the last straw.”

The list could go on and on (and it usually does). But can you identify with that? When we are unkind or hurtful to someone else, we can so easily look inside ourselves and understand that there are unseen factors that caused that to happen.

Now, I am not suggesting that should be used as an excuse for my bad behavior. I do in fact need to “hate the sin,” and ask God’s help in purging it from my life. If I am going to wear the name “Christian,” it is vital that I make every effort to live up to what that name implies.

At the same time, why not apply that same window I have into my own weakness and motivations to the person who has hurt me? He or she may also be tired, sick, or at the end of a really bad day. Why not choose to extend to that person the same grace and forgiveness I routinely give to myself.

Not that I should excuse their behavior any more than I should excuse it in myself. And it may very well be that I need to go to that person and attempt to reconcile. But if I do that in a spirit of understanding, reconciliation will be a lot easier than if I confront the person from wounded pride and with an accusing attitude.

“Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” No, that is not easy, but most of us apply it every day to ourselves, in some form or another. Why not try to make a conscious effort to try to see that other person as we see ourselves? It will probably result in healing and restoration. Even if it doesn’t, I suspect it will still make you feel a lot better, because forgiveness usually heals us more than it does the other person.

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