“Hate the sin; love the sinner.”
You’ve heard this before, right? You’ve seen this before. Maybe you have even said it before.
I know I have.
But how is that accomplished, exactly?
How do we actually HATE the sin and LOVE the sinner? In what ways is this practiced? In what ways do we actually accomplish this?
Supposedly this is what Jesus did. Supposedly He hated their sin while loving the sinners.
When did He do this? How did He do this?
The truth is this: Jesus was the PERFECT embodiment of a holy God. It was His very nature to hate sin. Sin opposed Him. Sin was the enemy of Christ. Sin chokes out grace. Sin chokes out light. Sin destroys and kills and steals every good thing.
When Jesus met with sinners – those common everyday lot – He did share the message of truth and grace and Light and every good thing. He referred back to His version of Scripture – the Torah – whenever the question of sin came up. And yet He did not always require repentance BEFORE He offered healing and grace. He did not require a change of heart or a change of direction or evidence of a change in action BEFORE He met their deepest needs.
When a broken, ruined, desperate woman was thrown before Him into the dirt on the ground, He was faced with the choice of hating the sin or loving the sinner.
Of course, He knew her ultimate outcome before she was ever dragged out before Him in an attempt to trap and discredit Him. HE knew where she had been, what she had done, and more importantly, what she would do again for the every day of the rest of her life.
We don’t know if she changed, do we?
But He knew.
And He did NOT condemn her. He simply LOVED her.
The problem with the ol’ “hate the sin; love the sinner” routine, is that we – again in our limited wisdom and imperfection – put the focus on SIN. Of COURSE Jesus hated sin. Sin is what separated us from His perfect plan. OF COURSE Jesus hated what sin does to us – leaving us ravaged and raw, broken and scarred, lost and even dead eternally.
But Jesus hated it so much HE DIED for sin.
He died for MY sin. For your sin. For THAT sinner’s sin…
So maybe the next time we hear that ol’ cliche we should stop and ask ourselves – would I DIE for that sinner?
The one who commits “that” sin that is so awful, such an abomination, so unbelievable, so hard to understand.
Could you DIE for that sin, for THAT sinner?
Cuz when Jesus hated sin, He did something about it.
Not with hate-signs and screaming voices. Not with name-calling or finger-pointing.
He met sin with LOVE.
And maybe instead of hauling out that sinner before Christ, demanding a verdict, preaching “hate the sin but love the sinner” we should just LOVE as Christ has loved.