With all the troubles going on in our world only getting worse as time goes on, a verse keeps coming to my mind:
For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10
It’s so much easier to judge unjustly. To pick out sin, point to our Bibles, and wield judgments left and right. No questions asked. No understanding offered. After all, what they’re doing is SIN. They’re wrong to sin like that. If we are kind and understanding, they’ll think we condone their sin. We can’t do that! They need to be told how wrong their sin is so they will be ashamed and repent.
But Jesus didn’t do that, did He? He hated sin, but loved the sinner. He offered the hope of redemption to those lost. He came to redeem, not condemn.
My favorite example of this is in John 8:
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
The Pharisees wanted to test Jesus, to condemn the woman, to prove their own righteousness. But Jesus saw the woman just as He sees every single other person: as a broken sinner who needs Him, His love, His free gift of salvation. He saw her not as someone who needed to be condemned, but as someone who needed forgiveness and salvation. He sees us as we are: broken, dirty, far separated from Him, and He stretches out His hand to us. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is simply that we as Christians have already realized our need to be saved and accepted the gift of God’s grace. Non-Christians have not, and they won’t until they see our love for God and our love for them–despite their sin.
It’s such a difficult balance: loving without condoning. Which is one of the reasons I love the song Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns so much. This song has been challenging me lately to be kinder, more merciful, and yet at the same time more just.
Isn’t it interesting how loving with God’s love, rather than pointing fingers, helps strengthen your convictions and your genuine desire to point others to Christ and His saving power? Shouldn’t we be heartbroken over the souls on their way to Hell because of their spiritual blindness, rather than condemning them for being a sinner just like you and I?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23 (emphasis added)
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
Boldly but lovingly speaking truth–of sin’s penalty and God’s justice, mercy, and love–is what God called us to do. Not to back down because we might hurt someone’s feelings or offend someone. Not to judge unjustly as we shout and wave our picket signs over our heads. Not to forget our own past sin and the extent of God’s saving grace.
It’s time to take the planks out of our eyes so that we can clearly see to actually help people and point them to Christ. We need to remember Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy for us, and then seek out those still lost in sin to share God’s love, grace, and mercy with them.
“Oh Jesus Friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.”