I want to talk about the listing of sins and why we as Christians feel the need to do that to ourselves and especially to other people. I’ve heard too many times the excuse, “but we are supposed to speak the truth in love” when a fellow Christian speaks about one type of sinner or another. I think we need to think long and hard before we try to point out anyone else’s sin. Are we truly doing it in love to try and help that person? I hope so, but often that isn’t the case. In my opinion, we feel the need to call out someone else for their mistakes and sin for two reasons.
1) We need to feel like we are better than someone else. It is in our nature and in fact part of our Sin nature. The Bible very clearly tells us that we are all God’s design and that He loves each one of us, but that’s not good enough for us. We want to believe that we can do or not do things to make God love us just a little bit more. Usually this comes in to play with groups of people or individuals we don’t understand. If we can’t wrap our heads around whatever or whoever they are, we convince ourselves they are lesser and therefore God must love them less.
The trouble is, we are all sinners choosing to do things our way rather than God’s way, and the individual ways we act this out are symptoms of a larger issue. The behaviors we exhibit are part of the condition of our hearts. Jesus urges us to look at our own sin before ever pointing out someone else’s, and tells the one without sin to cast the first stone. We are very good stone throwers, whether at someone whose lifestyle we don’t agree with or someone who makes egregious statements in a magazine. We love to throw those stones, don’t we?
For non-believers, why do you care if I think you are doing something wrong? I’ve been pushed and baited with questions about my definition of sin by folks who want to hear me spout something they can use against me. When asked, I try to point to the 10 commandments and the commandments of Jesus to love God and love others, and usually say the rest is between you and God. That is the truth. Thankfully, I was not sent here to judge you or anyone else. That is not my job, and for that I’m so grateful. I would be really bad at it. I want every person to hear about the grace and mercy of Jesus, and hearing me say judgy things doesn’t work well towards that end.
2) We don’t really believe Grace covers all sin. We want to believe that some things are outside of the reach of Christ’s work on the cross. Not any sin we’ve committed, of course, but that thing someone else does that we don’t agree with. That thing can’t be redeemed. It’s too bad, too gross, too much for God to handle in His neat little box we’ve made for Him. For some of us it might be someone’s sexual behavior, for other’s their skin color or socioeconomic status, for other’s their lifestyle choices. For me, it is bigotry and social injustice. I sometimes have a really hard time believing grace can cover those sins, even though I know in my head it can. Here’s the thing, you either have to believe in grace or not. It can’t cover you but not your neighbor. It doesn’t work that way.
Jesus calls us to love God and love our neighbors before anything else. Think about how you can use today to love God and love others. I will try my best to do the same. Next time I feel the urge to point out the stick in someone else’s eye, I promise to turn the mirror on the log in my own instead. When we waste time hating others or trying to put them down to make ourselves feel better, we miss out on the full life God wants for us. You can read the rest of my Life to the Full series here.