Can I be honest with you? I absolutely can’t stand some of the cute little well-intentioned but poorly-executed phrases in the “Christian” vocabulary. I don’t know where so many of these catchphrases came from, but we need to lose a lot of them. Sometimes when I hear someone say one, I have to laugh to keep from crying.
At the top of my list of horrible phrases is one you’ve heard before and maybe even said: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
Why do I feel so strongly about that phrase? Because it implies that we think we have the right to judge others.
Judgement is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of Christianity. Some think we should judge the sin in others lives without passing sentence. Some think we should totally avoid pointing out any sin in others’ lives or we’ll be sent straight to hell (“Judge not lest ye be judged,” right?).
The thing is, all of us humans are really bad at doing two things:
- Not judging.
- Not gossiping after we’ve judged.
And the reason I hate that phrase is that it subtly gives us the idea that it’s ok for us to judge, point out, or even worry about “fixing” the sin in others’ lives.
In the blog I wrote yesterday about anger, I mentioned a phrase that I’ve come to believe in a whole lot lately: it’s God’s place to judge, the Holy Spirit’s place to convict, and our place to love.
What we SHOULD do as Christians is hold each other accountable. If another Christian is caught in sin, you are given permission in the Bible to go to that person, point out that sin IN LOVE and FOR THE PURPOSE OF FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION, and pray for that person as you help to restore them (Proverbs 27:17; Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:19-20). However, our part of the deal ends. right. there.
What we SHOULD NOT do as Christians is hold “religion” over the heads of people who are not Christians. How often do we say to people, verbally or otherwise, that they can’t come to our church, get to know God, or explore faith until they get rid of all the sin in their lives and “get right?” Come on, people, that isn’t our place! Church isn’t a country club for the neat and tidy and spiritually “rich,” it’s a hospital, a triage unit, for the wounded, broken, dirty. (Most of us fall into that category anyway. If you think you don’t, you definitely do.) It’s for those who are spiritually poor or weak, but hungry.
So instead of saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” why can’t we just say, “Love the sinner.” Period. The end, that’s it, end of story. Love. Because first of all, we’re all sinners, right? And second, if we truly love people and pray for them, God will take care of the rest.
You and I can’t save people anyway. Nothing we do can get rid of the sin in anyone’s life or provide forgiveness. So in the end, all we can really do is love. Let’s stop worrying about cleaning people up and just start loving each other. Let’s do our job and get out of the way so God can do His job without having to trip over us getting in His way.
Are there any Christian phrases or words that make you cringe? Share one in the comments below.