We’ve all heard before, “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner”. Is that how you handle conflict? Or do you, like me, fail to abide by that practice?
I remember living through my first wife’s addiction, confessing to my therapist how upset I was with her. 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 above expression previously, it was the first time I really began to understand “hate the sin, not the sinner”.
In Scripture we read…“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 hurt you. It helps to have an attitude of understanding, believing that the other person wasn’t intentionally wanting to harm you, then working to resolve the matter. 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. After 49 years, Roe v. Wade was finally overturned by the Supreme Court, an answer to many prayers by many people for many years.
With the above, we’ve seen some real ugliness, whether it be personal attacks, protesting that turns violent, pro-life facilities being vandalized, and threats being made.
As Christians, we need to abide 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 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.
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 [email protected] with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.
Always remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!