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The Bible Doesn’t Say That: Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

Matthew 7:1 is a verse that even non-Christians like to toss around. ”Do not judge or you too will be judged.” In many ways, this is an attempt to proclaim, “Mind your own business.”

We tend to like to use it when others call out our “less-than-righteous” or inappropriate behaviors. If someone tells me I’ve had too many MegaStuf Oreo’s, I proclaim, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” By the way, we all know that once the MegaStuf Oreo’s hit the market, all other Oreo’s became obsolete.

“Do not judge” gets thrown in our direction when we attempt to “correct” the “less-than-righteous” or inappropriate behaviors of those around us. For example, if I tell someone maybe they don’t need a second serving of ice cream, I hear “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

In the book unChristian, author David Kinnaman’s research shows that those outside the Christian faith view Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, too political, out of touch with reality, insensitive to others, boring and anti-homosexual.

Now, while that might sting a little, if we give an honest assessment of Christianity, we have to own up to some of these.

When some of my non-Christian friends say things like, “You Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites”, I’m always quick to affirm their assessment. I usually say, “You’re right. We’re all hypocrites in some way.”

In many of the other categories, we have to be willing to take responsibility for why some outside the Christian tradition view us in this light.

When it comes to being too judgmental, that all-too-familiar verse of “do not judge or you too will be judged” is flippantly tossed around. Another all-too-familiar saying that goes along with “do not judge” is “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

We like to think that saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is Biblical – it really isn’t. In fact, we would probably have an easier time finding Biblical support for the saying “hate the sinner, hate the sin.”

“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is an attempt to keep judgment from getting too personal. It almost gives the impression that, in judging you for your sin, I’m really just loving you!

However, on the receiving end, it can be confusing. “If you are a Christian, aren’t you supposed to love me? I get that you don’t approve of what I’m doing…but if you are judging me, you aren’t really loving me.”

If we look at this idea (love the sinner, hate the sin) through the lens of Jesus, we might see the call to “love everyone, extend and receive forgiveness, stop sinning.”

Galatians 6:1-5 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.”

I believe this passage points out part of the reason Christians are labeled as too judgmental. We don’t always go about restoring those caught in sin gently. We don’t always do a great job of carrying one another’s burdens. We like to think of things as “that’s his problem, not mine.” We sometimes think too highly of ourselves. We don’t do enough serious self-inventory. We don’t always give honest self-assessments.

This Sunday, we are going to explore Matthew 7, going beyond verse 1, to talk about this Christian cliché, “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Some of you may have caught that I only mentioned joining us on YouTube. Yes, you read that correctly.

During a covid-19 townhall with Bishop Julius Trimble on Monday afternoon, the Bishop called for all Indiana United Methodist Churches to suspend in-person worship for the next several weeks, potentially longer. While it is disappointing news, I know the Bishop did not make this decision flippantly.
We will be sharing some more official updates through our various communication resources in the near future.

With that, we will be livestreaming a congregation-less worship service each Sunday morning at 10am on YouTube. We will post a link to the YouTube channel each Sunday on our Facebook page so you can easily access the livestream. I would encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to go ahead and look us up on YouTube today.

In that Covid-19 Townhall meeting with our Bishop and officials from IU Health, we were encouraged that, with the news of vaccines on the way, just because we can see the finish line, we cannot let up. We are doing all we can to do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.

I share all of this because these are steps we can all take that will help keep our church and community safe. This isn’t the news I hoped to share with you. However, it’s the reality of where we are at. Bishop Trimble reminded us that this inconvenience is really about doing what we can for the greater good.

I do want to commend the great people of First Wayne Street for being resilient and vigilant during this process. Because of everyone doing their part to follow the appropriate guidelines and protocols we laid out, First Wayne Street has been able to worship without incident to this point! Not only that, the continued faithful and generous giving of this congregation has been awe-inspiring. You all are amazing. Yes, all of you!

I pray that you will continue to be patient and gracious with us as we navigate this pandemic. Pray for our church, our community, our nation and our world. I look forward to the day we can once again safely join together in-person. In the meantime, I’ll be “seeing” you virtually.

Let’s be honest, that wasn’t fun information to share. So, let me tell you something that is at least fun for me. I grabbed lunch at the Pembroke Bakery and Cafe today. They have amazing vegetarian, vegan and some gluten free items. Their Cajun red beans and rice were calling my name. The combo order comes with your choice of a side item. I regularly go for the “cookie” option.

Today, rather than just hooking me up with one cookie, my friends blessed me with three oatmeal cherry cookies! They are delicious and pair well with my wonderful cup of coffee from The Joe Taylor Coffee Company. So, that’s not really nice for you, but it’s great for me.

Now, I’m not necessarily encouraging you to eat at restaurants – everyone has to make the best decisions for themselves. But, I am encouraging you to support our local businesses by ordering carry out, delivery or finding creative ways to keep Fort Wayne thriving. When you start your Christmas shopping, consider shopping or ordering from one of our local shops.

Friends, we are going to make it through this together. While many of these inconveniences are difficult, in the long run it is what’s best. Stay safe. Stay well. Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. Have an awesome day!