Saturday, December 1, 2012
from my friend Alexei . . .
Hate the sin, love the sinner we've all heard this phrase before. It's fairly common in evangelical sub-culture. We are to hate the sins of others, least we be tempted, but love the sinner. By hating sin we can escape from it. It's a nice idea, but somehow I think it works better in the abstract than in practice. For love and hate don't easily mix in our attitudes towards others. Sin can not be so easily abstracted or removed from the one that commits sin.
Although it's an attractive idea it's harder to substantiate in terms of the scriptures. I think the more accurate injunction would be love God, turn from sin, and above all love the sinner.
You often hear hate the sin in the context of sins and people whose sins are somehow especially egregious, worthy of special hatred when in reality our sin your sin my sin is worthy of disgust from the Lord and yet, love, compassion, unimaginable forgiveness are all found in Jesus. Mercy, patience, tenderheartedness, and love these are the fruits of the repentant/turned life.
When you hate the sin in another you very much risk diminishing your love of that person. If we are to hate the sin than why enter a relationship at all? Would not our model be isolation, not engagement?
What if the sin of the other hits especially close to home. Is that hatred supposed to convey that this vulnerability surpasses your love for them?
We should have a sober view of the role of sin in our own lives. We are told repeatedly to turn from our former habits and seek those new habits, the new person we've become in Jesus. Who is that person? The person puts on peace, patience, kindness, self-control, faith, and above all things love. Love does not seek to harm his neighbor, but instead seeks their good. It's hard to commend the grace and love of the gospel when we hate the sin in others more than the sin that resides in us. Somewhere we are told to remove the log in our own eyes before attending to our neighbor.
There is no special category of people for whom their sins should be especially hated above our own. All our sins are deserving of judgment. The better phrase would be love God and the things that are according to his nature and love the sinner.
Love the sinner, dine with the sinner, invest time with the sinner because The Lord loved, dined, and invested in you a sinner. Be patient, bearing in love because that is the Lord's disposition towards you.
Reflect his nature and love in order that we might reach all people baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit teaching them all that was commanded, especially not neglecting the great love and compassion that characterizes the life of faith.