The Myth of “Love the Sinner, hate the Sin.”

I think I have a unique spiritual gift. I can see your sin.  Clearly. I mean, I can see it while riding a horse over a distant bridge.  Your sin. It’s embarrassingly easy for me to spot.

I’ve had this gift since I was a young child.  I could see it in my two sisters. My parents.  Schoolmates and even people far away. It just seemed to yell out “Look at me.  I’m sin.”

And then I heard it.  Justification from the pulpit.  The man said “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” I realized I needed to be a bit better at loving the sinner. I had the “hate the sin” part down, but was a little weak on the second half of the saying.

I started noticing that Jesus was really good at loving sinners.  He clearly told us to hate the sin, right?  He even pointed out people’s sin.  And we want to be like Jesus, so we should as well….

But then I saw it – embarrassingly not too long ago. It’s in the so-called sermon on the side of a hill.  Matthew chapter seven I believe.  Something about a log and a piece of sawdust. I could relate to this metaphor because I’d done quite a lot of carpentry in my day.  If you get a piece of sawdust in your eye, it really hurts and sometimes you need help getting it out.

I think Jesus was trying to tell me I needed to help my friends get the sawdust out of their eyes. I’d be happy to…. But, wait…what was that?  I have a tree growing out of my eyeball?  Odd?  Never noticed that.  Guess I’d better get a lumberjack to come over and  bring in the heavy equipment. Get that sucker outta there.  (So, I can help my brother, with that speck of dust in his eye, of course).

That seems to be the clear teaching in the scriptures. Hate YOUR sin, and love sinners. Don’t worry about anyone else’s sin.  What if I lived that way? It’d be so much easier walking around NOT having a log sticking out of my eye. And….I could actually help my friends and neighbors get specks of sawdust out of theirs.  Wow.  I think I might try that.

Hate my sin. Love sinners. It’s my new motto.

Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    Ouch. Get the tree out of my eye! I like that perspective of hating MY sin and loving sinners. I have been working on that but I am a work in progress.

    Trying to follow Jesus,
    Kevin

  2. This is so useful, as I have always been uncomfortable with “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Perhaps “love the sinner, hate the sin” was a good way for ‘christians’ to judge those who they do not agree with.

    Thank you

  3. reen says:

    Wow, Carl, I usually agree with you, but this one has me confused. Maybe you can elaborate. Can’t I hate my sin, recognize that I’m a sinner, AND still speak truth in love into someone else’s life? Should I not (lovingly) call out self-destructive behavior in someone else (like Jesus did with the woman at the well)? Should I just overlook someone else’s flagrant sin? How about when someone is totally believing a lie? Should I just look the other way? That seems awfully wimpy to me.
    You seem to imply that I need to be sinless in order to recognize sin in anyone else. Hmmmmm. That doesn’t seem right to me. Carl, at least for me, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

    1. Carl Medearis says:

      Fair point. Maybe I should have said “generally speaking.” I think that would answer your question.