Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.1 John 4:11
I received a comment on my recent post Christian, Where Do Your Loyalties Lie? that pointed out the real need of loving with a perfect love but included this warning:
“while demonstrating love, we must never give the impression that we are condoning the sin of another person.”
The commentator shares this sentiment with many others. It’s the old “Love the sinner, not the sin” adage. I have heard this said time and time again. I know where they are coming from, and have used the phrase myself. But I find myself wondering, is this something people say when they don’t really intend to the love the sinner either?
When I love my husband, I never think, “I’d better be cautious about how much I love him. He is, after all, a sinner.” I don’t think that way about my daughters or my grandchildren. Never, once have I thought that those little hoodlums don’t deserve to be loved very much. It might make them think their bad behavior is alright. My mom and dad, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends, or even strangers on the street do not receive that kind of treatment either. I just love them as they are without labeling them as sinners or giving a thought to what sin I might be giving the OK to.
Why then does it apply to people in groups we find fault with? Not once did Jesus withhold his love from a person to avoid condoning their sin. He embraced each person in spite of their sin. I can attest to that fact in my own life. He loved me right where I was, sin and all. The Bible confirms it saying, “while we were yet sinners” Jesus loved us in the most extravagant way possible. He gave up his life for ours. How is it we don’t see that when it comes to loving others? He told us to love others as he has loved us. And went on to say there was no greater love than giving one’s life for a friend.
Thinking of people as sinners sets us up for failure. It disconnects us from them. The name may fit, as it does for any of us, but using it takes away the hope of something better. It’s a mindset we cannot afford to have if we are going to make a difference in people’s lives. We need to see others as Jesus does, so that they can see him as he is.
Thinking of people the way Jesus does, is a world changer.
It takes the us and them away and makes it just us. Do not look at them as sinners, but rather fellow recipients to something really grand—God’s love. I don’t know about you, when I’ve encountered something wonderful I can’t wait to share it with others. I want them to experience it, too. When it comes to the love God has for us, well you know me, I don’t want anyone to miss a moment of it because I know what a positive difference it makes.
And don’t worry so much about other people’s sin. Jesus told us that we have enough of it to deal with in our own life without trying to point out the sin in other people. If someone is going the wrong direction, God is bound to help him find a better way. He is very good at it. The main thing for us to concern ourselves with is making easy to access God by removing any barriers we’ve put in place that could be preventing others from finding their way. That’s where love comes in.
Please, please, please love others the way Jesus did.
No matter who they are or how far you think they have strayed from God’s ways just love them. The quality of their lives and yours may depend on it. Jesus told us and his critics that to love God was the greatest commandment and loving others was just as important. If we love God, we must love others too or else our faith is empty and powerless. When we love free from conditions, we activate something huge and world changing. It’s something that makes everyone better. Be part of it. Love deeply.
Where Is It in the Bible?
I challenge each of you to take a more in-depth look into the Scriptures. I have linked each passage with the book and chapter it is found in so that you can see it in context. Please read them, write them out, dig deep into their meaning, ponder them, and make them yours. Knowing God’s word will not only change you, but it will also change the world.
- “But God demonstrates his own love for us I this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
- How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speak from your brother’s eye. Luke 6:42
- ‘One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ‘ Mark 12:28-31
- My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12
- Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11
- Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have a sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22