Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 (NLT)
20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:20-24 (NLT)
1002 To save mankind, Lord, you died on the Cross. And yet for one mortal sin you condemn a man to a hapless eternity of suffering. How much sin must offend you, and how much I ought to hate it!
For maybe 20 years, there has been a platitude circling around Christianity. It goes like this, “we should hate the sin, but love the sinner.”
It isn’t scriptural, in that it doesn’t come from the word of God. We accept it because it seems logical, and it gets us out of sticky situations.
I don’t think we hate sin anymore. I think we tolerate it, welcome it, choose it, and count on God to take pity on us.
If we’ve been brought up in the church, we know what the Bible says about sin. We know that what it earns death and destruction. Sin separates us from all that is good; it separates us from God and His love.
It deserves our hatred. It is something we should fear, as it seduces and enslaves people. It does such a thorough job, burying us deeper and deeper beneath its weight. We excuse it, we claim that not sinning is an inconvenience, that living as God teaches isn’t possible anymore. Theologians dismiss it with the very phrase that provides the title of my blog – that we are simply justified sinners, and that is all we will ever be in this life.
I think that we’ve come to a point where we don’t hate our sin anymore. The sins of Isis, the sins of “those” people, the sins committed against us, yes, we still hate that sin.
Do we hate our sin? Do we hate the sins of our friends? Do we hate the sins of our children? Do we fear the grip that sin can have over people, and the damage it can do to their lives? Do we see it wrecking the relationships around us?
If we did, how glorious would the cross be? How central to our lives would our baptism be? what a celebration the Lord’s Supper would be, and the relief we would know as we heard the words, “you’re sins are forgiven!”
He broke the power of sin; he crushed it. He saved us from it. He brings healing to our hearts and peace to weary souls.
During this Lent, we pause and take the time to not only love the sinner, but fear for them, and struggle to see them freed. We look to Christ, setting that sin, that desire, that temptation aside… knowing He endured the cross so that we could be free. Fr that to Him was His joy, to see us freed, cleansed and made holy.
Do we hate sin? We need to…..
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3534-3535). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional THought of the Day:
19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21 (NLT)
2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. Psalm 91:2-3 (NLT)
For the past week, I have been getting more and more weary. As I see people respond to the unrest in places like Ferguson, or the despair in places like Detroit, as I see the hatred that the President’s actions took regarding immigration, I find myself getting more and more depressed.
If you go – well, of course, look what THEY are doing, please keep reading. For I see the anger and hatred in the reactions of both sides of the issues. It’s just not electronic social media, you can’t even eat lunch in public place without hearing the hatred, the condescension, the call for others to change, but rarely, very rarely, the call to reconciliation, to coming together, to true fellowship. We even create ways to mock the injustice we perceive, not seeing the mocking as less than just…
Some have hated the hating. Demanding that others love, asking why can’t “THEY” just get along. Or quoting platitudes about love and hate as if people were easily capable of the former, and able to just stop the latter. As if we could stop sinning with the snap of a finger, as if we could love without self-sacrifice, as if life was as simple as platitudes and the memes which present them.
I entitled this blog “Why Love isn’t what is needed to combat hatred”, because I keep seeing such memes, such advice. It’s as if this is a war between good and evil, a war between love and hate. It’s not. good doesn’t conquer evil, and love cannot hate hatred enough to go to war against it. What turns love into something that can hatred is fear, fear created because of a lack of what we do need.
For without faith in God, faith in Christ’s work on the cross, trust in the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, what we call love, is not love. It is not the cHesed type of love which sacrifices and bears every burden, so as to bless and reconcile the relationship. Without faith/trust in God we can’t cope with the pain of others, we can’t stop the fear of being hurt again, we can’t cope with the anxiety that living in a sin-plagued world brings.
When you have a moment, look at home many times the psalms call God a refuge? It takes faith/trust to see this. Or how God is described as our hiding place, (and include Colossians 3:2) in that. Look at what God can do to evil, when we trust in Him as our focus, rather than fighting back. Joseph did this, Paul learned to do this from Stephen. David did this when Saul was after him.
In order to love, we have to have the faith, the confidence that God will make all things work for good, even though waiting for that good will be…challenging. For we must trust God through the pain, through what we perceive as evil, knowing that He is Lord, that He is our refuge, that we are protected, our hearts and minds, by Jesus. For as we dwell in Him, the Father surrounds us with peace, the peace that comes from finding refuge.
Lord, help us to trust you more than being repulsed by hatred… and help us love and sacrifice, that all would come to know You1
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1565-1570). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion/Devotional thought of the day:
” 12:21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:21 (NLT)
Consider this qutoe:
” The task for a Christian is to drown evil in an abundance of good. It is not a question of negative campaigns, or of being anti anything. On the contrary, we should live positively, full of optimism, with youthfulness, joy and peace. We should be understanding with everybody, with the followers of Christ and with those who abandon him, or do not know him at all. But understanding does not mean holding back, or remaining indifferent, but being active.” Escriva, Josemaria
We live in a world of “anti’s”, or at least people tell us constantly what they are against. The list is usually huge, and sometimes, if they think about it – inconsistent.
Often these “anti” positions are based in creating a strong defense, striking out against what is perceived to attack them, or limit them, or taking away that which they think they need. The problem, as Escriva notes – is that to be so defined by “anti” never defines us positively. Focusing on what we hate, or can’t tolerate, being constantly on the defensive, leaves us at the end of the day empty.
The option, some would maintain, is being passive. That being positive means toleration, that means compromise, that means we abandon our defensive, and open ourselves to being beaten, scorned, betrayed and hurt. Or that we allow others to force their ideas upon us, and we meekly (a word misunderstood) accept their position. If this were true, then the cross is the ultimate form of weakness, but it isn’t. It was a choice. It was a matter of embracing us, that we would be changed.
Such is the activity of overcoming evil with good, and overcoming hatred with love. it’s going the extra mile with those who demand our service, simply because it gives us more time to reflect on them the love of Christ. For that is what matters, and that is what changes people. It is deliberately choosing to serve – not in view of backing down or compromising to keep the peace – but to show the love of Christ.
It’s not easy.. no where near as easy as being “anti” and standing in a place of judgment and condemnation. But instead finding the strength to love, to serve, to overcome.
Lord, even as You have mercy help us to reflect that mercy… and to have the strength to show it.