Tonight when Sawyer was putting on a magic show in our kitchen, Adelade jumped up and revealed one of his secrets. Emerald turned to her much bigger sister and loudly told Adelade that she was ruining his grand finale. Then, she turned to the audience (my mother and me) and explained, “I’m just yelling at my sister. But, she’s still nice.”
In her two year old way, Emerald wanted us to know that, even though she had a real problem with how her sister was acting, she still believes that Adelade is a pretty nice girl.
It made me think of the old adage “Hate the sin/Love the sinner.” Emerald has her own special ways of wreaking havoc that drive her big sister crazy. But, I really don’t see evidence, in her little-ness, that she hates her own behavior too much. No, she seems pretty okay with the fact that she does things she shouldn’t. But, when she sees misbehavior in someone else, watch out, because she will call them out on it. In love, of course.
I’m of the belief that we should call each other out on sin. I think we should love each other deeply and hold each other accountable. I think we should speak loving truth to one another. And, yes, I think we should hate sin. But, the problem I have with the often-quoted old saying is the misconception that we are to love sinners and hate THEIR sin. The truth is that we need to love sinners and hate ALL sin, especially our own.
It’s our own sin problems that should keep us up at night, not what we see happening in Hollywood or what we read in the newspaper. Knowledge of our own sin should be breaking our hearts and bringing humility and understanding. When we stand face-to-face in brutal honesty with our own sin issues, when we take a good, long hard look in the mirror, this is when true love for our fellow sinners comes about. This is when we can honestly say, no, don’t take that path. I know where it leads. It has broken my heart, and I don’t want it to break yours, too.
When we hate sin, we should hate ours first. We should be brought low by it. It should cause us to bow before a holy God, acknowledging our unworthiness. And, it should make us rise again with the knowledge that it’s only by God’s grace and mercy that we ever take a right step. Then, each day, when we have met our own sin and have set out to conquer it in the name of Jesus, we can greet others along the road and love them. Really love them. Because we will feel desperate to warn them about what sin really does to the heart and the soul.
It’s an unusual call to worship: dwell on the depths of your own sin. Let yourself be humbled by God’s goodness. Hate sin. Love sinners.