I’m assuming (I know what “assume” means (past post)…I think I’m safe here) that many of us have heard before, “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner”. That doesn’t mean that we live it…certainly not all the time. I don’t and often it’s a struggle.
I remember living through my first wife’s addiction, confessing to my therapist that there were times when I literally hated her (that’s probably shocking to read). Given the family dysfunction related to addiction, the disease was killing her and it was killing me, emotionally and physically (stress, weight loss, headaches). Gratified to hear that my feelings were normal didn’t mean that they were acceptable. Having heard the expression previously, it was the first time I really began to understand “hate the sin, not the sinner”.
We touched on these concepts last week, siting from Scripture…“do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Another Scripture verse that speaks to this issue is where Peter asks how often he is to forgive. Jesus responds to him in Matthew 18:22, “I do not say to you even seven times, but even seventy times seven times”.
All of these verses speak to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. As I’ve learned, one of the tricks is to not assume malice. Most often, when someone does something that upsets you, they’ve not done it to intentionally make you mad. It helps to have an attitude of understanding, believing that the other person wasn’t intentionally wanting to hurt you, then trying to work it out. BTW, all of this is easier said than done. It really takes practice.
My experience would indicate that there’s another factor in all of this, that is the complicity that we may have in the conflict. How have our actions added to the dilemma? What role have we played? How does how we feel about ourselves contribute to the reaction we’ve had? All questions I’ve had to ask myself as I mature in life and in my faith.
Let’s consider a more global issue, i.e. abortion. As Christians, I’m hopeful that we can all agree that it is an intrinsic evil, as identified by the teachings of the Church and documented by the Unite States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I’m not getting political here…I promise.
Related, I just saw a post indicating that a group of protesters interrupted a Mass being celebrated by Bishop Brennan at St. Joseph Cathedral, in the Diocese of Columbus, on January 22. The US Catholic Church had made this day, the 48th anniversary of abortion becoming legal in the US, “A Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”.
The protestors were parading through the Church with signs during the Mass. As expressed to a friend, I can’t imagine the audacity in this act, just like I can’t understand the riots, looting, or violence in our Capitol nor any city in our country.
With the significant political and cultural divide in our country (promise…I’m not getting political), the vitriol from all sides is at a fever pitch, really I believe, unprecedented in our history. We are seeing a lot of “hate the sinner”.
As Christians, we need to be better than this, abiding by Matthew 7:12 and 18:22, as well as Mark 12:31. We need to recognize that ALL OF US are beloved children of God. We’re also all sinners, each and every one of us. Another verse I’m reminded of here is when Jesus says, “how can you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and not see the board in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).
It may be easy to hate the protesters sited above. I get it and I’m guilty of it. Their actions, like those in our Capitol and other cities, are reprehensible. But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do. And the reality is that hating them isn’t going to change them, nor our world.
Lastly, related to our potential complicity, with of all things…abortion, think of this. Assuming we’re all pro-life, are we doing anything to support that belief? Do we talk to our kids and others about the issue; do we support the pro-life movement…with our time, talent, or treasures; do we pray for the unborn…and all life; do we pray for the precious aborted babies, or those who support or participate in the abortion industry?
I’d encourage all of us to try very hard to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. It’s the only way we’re going to change hearts and change our world. I’d also suggest that we examine our role in all things. And always, for guidance and as our greatest example, go to Jesus.
As always, please contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!
Always remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!