Originally published Saturday, 25 July 2015.
Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment?
Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing[a] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.” ~Romans 2:3-5
Yet, my first response to someone else’s sin? …loving kindness? Not always. Not so much. When sin is a stronghold on my friend, do I shower her with loving kindness and point her to Jesus? Maybe sometimes, but I can’t say that my response to sin always looks like Jesus.
What about you? How do you respond to sin and mistakes? Maybe you scoop up brokenness with the warmest embrace, but I have failed at this before. If we are honest, I think we can see that we generally fall short of dealing with wrong-doings in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
Paul said this in Phillipians 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Can my response to sin point someone to Jesus? Is it worthy of the Gospel of Christ? Could it be that my reaction and my words have the power to show someone the grace of Jesus? What if I treated my friends, acquaintances, even those who hurt me in a way that they saw the grace of Jesus in a moment that they expected judgment? (I sincerely hope my friends never expect judgment from me…but guilt has a way of making us presume we’ll be judged, you know.)
I’m not suggesting that we keep our lips sealed about the truth. Absolutely not! If I am caught in sin, I want my friends to come beside me and to lovingly point me to the error of my ways. I want to be told that I am wrong in a gentle and loving way. I want to be redirected to Jesus. This is what I see Jesus doing in the Bible. I see Him again and again, coming alongside the sinner and saying, “Go and sin no more.” He isn’t judging. He is showing a better way. He is releasing them from the chains of sin. He is showing them an out and giving them the gift of freedom in Him. Never ever did Jesus say, “Keep on doing what you are doing. I love you. That’s all that matters.” Um…no. He told them to repent but He loved them, embraced them, stopped the throwing of stones, healed the things that were hurt and broken, and said, “Sin no more.”
You see, we have begun to believe that we have two choices. We believe our response (and everyone’s response to us) must be either 1) total acceptance of sin (we call this love) or 2) complete rejection of the sinner (we call this judgment.) Those responses are not of Jesus. They aren’t His way. If Jesus doesn’t delight in my response to sin….who does?
The enemy comes to destroy and to divide. He wants us to call the acceptance of sin, “love,” and he knows it leads to further destruction and hurt for the one caught in that stronghold of sin. Sweet friends, if that is your definition of “love,” please, please never “love” me in that way. Your love for me shouldn’t lead to further destruction in my life nor should it cause me to believe that I’m stuck in a sin. The true love of Jesus breaks every chain.
And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The other response: rejection of the sinner? That isn’t Jesus either. I’m only speaking from what I know in the Bible, but I choose to follow the example of Jesus (except for when I mess this up…carry on.) Jesus is a friend to the sinners. A friend. He got close. He loved. He walked beside. He poured out loving kindness, healing, forgiveness, mercy, and lived grace in such a big way that the sinner trusted His heart when he said, “Turn from it. Repent. Go and sin no more.” Silly us. We think our proud Facebook posts, cynical memes, and arrogant article shares are going to draw people to Jesus. I think it’s time we give this “loving kindness” thing a try.
Love, love, love genuinely, deeply, and unconditionally. Then, speak truth. Speak the truth of Jesus. Tell of the freedom from sin. Pour it out with loving kindness because that is what Jesus would do. That is what he does. Are we the hands and feet of Jesus…or no? If we love Jesus, our lives should look a lot like His. We’ll fail at this but the living should look a lot loving and truth speaking. The devil hates truth. He hates truth to be spoken in a loving way. He wants us to live in darkness, restricted by the pain of our choices, believing that our sin is our identity. Jesus calls us His own. He makes us new. He makes us free. We are free to turn from sin and to walk with Him. We are free to repent and to do better next time. He calls us His child. My identity isn’t in the sin that weighs me down. With Jesus, I can be free of that mess. I can turn away from my sin. He loves me and allows me to repent. My identity is in His grace.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” ~Ephesians 2:8
Jesus, teach me your ways so that I can love like you love and so that I may walk in your truth. May we follow the example of Jesus and prayerfully seek Him as we love others while speaking the freeing truth of repentance. Loving kindness. May it flow from me.
From my heart to yours, ~Courtney