Tag Archives: love the sinner

Choosing To Love

One of the places I find myself at odds with mainstream Christianity in America (and maybe you too) is how we treat non-believers. In today’s culture, Christians are under attack for our faith. There is a war for the heart of this nation that we find ourselves in. The problem is that the enemy uses people and groups to attack us, and we fight back with these groups of people. We’ve forgotten that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and rulers of the unseen world. We never once read where Jesus attacked the people who were attacking Him. Instead, He loved them and fought against their spiritual darkness by bringing light.

We as Christians have been called to be salt and light. Who needs those? People who are living in the dark and need God’s flavors sprinkled in their life. How can we bring light when we are constantly attacking the person? How can we show them how to taste and see that the Lord is good when we consider them our foes? We’ve can’t afford to be distracted by the enemy and fall into the trap of attacking others. We are to be known for our love rather than our disdain. How can we show God’s love when we are meeting hate with hate?

In Colossians 4:5, Paul urges us, “Be wise in the way you act toward those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have” (GNT). His message was to the Christians there to remind them of the roots of their faith. I believe we too need that reminder. We need to pray for wisdom in how we show God’s love to those who are against our faith, and that we do it in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Our mission hasn’t changed. If we want to turn this world upside down again, it’s going to come from God’s love through us not from our human attempts to force change.

Photo by Leighann Renee on Unsplash


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Love People

I read a quote from Mark Batterson’s book “If” that hit home with me. He wrote, “Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it. That’s how you change someone’s life forever.” At a Toby Mac concert, his drummer shared a story of a man who had three kids with three different women. He wasn’t a present father in their lives and was a mess of a human. The Diverse City band loved him when he was broken and didn’t deserve it. They showed him the love of Christ through their actions and led him to the Lord. He then revealed he was that man.

When I think of that quote, I think of what God has done for each of us. At our worst, He still loved us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). God didn’t wait for you and I to clean ourselves up and to start living right before He demonstrated His love. He did it while we were covered in the filth of sin. He did it when we were living in rebellion to His way of life. 

He expects us to demonstrate that kind of love to others. He expects us to love those who least deserve it. I John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]” (AMP). The more we love others the way God loves us, the more we get to know who He is.

After the Toby Mac concert, I went to find the drummer. He was taking photos with fans and signing autographs. He looked each person in the eye and said, “I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it!” I smiled when I heard him say it and thought, “That’s exactly what God says to each of us.” We’ve got to get to the point where we love others no matter who they are, how they live, or what they do. If we’re truly interested in changing lives, it starts with loving others where they are. 

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Love The Sinner.

One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How can I love the sinner and hate the sin?” I’m not sure where this saying originated or how it became the theme among so many Christians. When sin is a part of how a person defines themselves, how can you separate the two? I don’t think you can. The easiest and best thing you can do is to drop the “hate the sin” part and focus on loving the sinner. Before you get all crazy, I didn’t say we don’t call sin “sin”. I said we need to quit focusing on the hate of it so much when it’s attached to a person’s identity.

We have examples of Jesus and Paul who spent their lives ministering to the people who were unworthy of God’s love in the eyes of the religious leaders. People said to Jesus, “If you knew what manner of person she was, you wouldn’t let her touch you.” They also said, “If you were really a prophet, you would know how bad of a sinner that is that you’re talking to.” Jesus didn’t spend nearly as much time hating the sin as He did on loving the sinner. He got up close and personal with those who needed Him most. His response was, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor. It’s the sick.” If the sick wouldn’t come to the hospital, He went to them.

In I Corinthians 9:19-22 Paul spoke of how he loved the sinner in order to bring them to salvation. He wrote, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. (MSG)” In his love for them, he entered their world. He didn’t force them to come to his. I think that’s key for us. Harvesters don’t sit in the farm house waiting for the harvest to bring itself to them. They have to go into the field if they want to reap. 

The most important thing he said was, “I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings on Christ.” If we are going to go into their world, it’s not to camp out and stay. Jesus always went back to the disciples and also to the mountains to pray. When you give yourself away, as love requires, you’ll need to get refilled from other believers and the Father. You’ll need to keep your bearings on Christ so that He remains your moral compass instead of political correctness. If we lose our way, how will they ever find theirs? We must remain grounded in prayer and God’s Word while we serve those involved in sins that are attached to their identities.

In my conversations with people involved in sins like this, they’re turned off by the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” moniker. They just want to be loved and accepted as a person instead of labeled and separated. The only way you can love someone is to get to know them. You can’t know someone if you’re constantly put off by their sin. You can’t know someone if you don’t spend time getting to know them as a human or a person. If you’re going to truly love the sinner, go to them, befriend them, live like Christ in front of them and don’t compromise the truth of God’s Word. When we do that, our churches will start growing and will become the hospital for the spiritually wounded.

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A Revival Of Love

I’m sure that Robin Williams’ death came as a shock to you as much as it did to me. How could someone so funny and entertaining lose a fight with depression? How could someone who brought so much happiness to others not be able to find happiness himself? These are the questions I asked when I heard the news. The truth is that he, like so many people, fought an unseen enemy in an arena that no one else can enter. He tried to deal with it the best ways he knew how. Most of which probably weren’t healthy or productive. We can sit and judge or we can watch and learn.

When I saw others post their favorite movie quotes of his, the one that came to my mind was fitting for the way he died. In the movie “Patch Adams”, his character, who was a doctor, said, “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.” So many times we look past the person and only see their disease, their sin or their faults. We spend so much time attacking the defect that we forget we are dealing with a person. We like to say, “Love the sinner. Hate the sin,” but too often we can’t see the sinner for the sin.

It’s hard to love someone when we are so focused on the thing we hate. When I read the way Jesus was in the New Testament, I see someone who had compassion for the individual person. He saw their sickness, their defect and their sin and He had compassion. Instead of pointing out the sin or disease, He looked at the person and showed love. He knew that when it comes to sin, you treat the person, not the sin. He knew that showing hate for the sin did more harm than good in most instances. Yes, He overthrew some tables a couple of times. Those were when He was upset at the very ones acting in His name. You never read where He got angry at a sinner.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t call sin “sin”. I’m saying we should be quicker to show compassion and love for others than we are to point out their sin. We don’t know what they have been through or what they are facing. What we do know is that we serve a God who forgives no matter what we or they have done. The only way they will see that is if we learn to show love to the sinner and treat the person not the sin. What would happen if we acted out the Golden Rule as if we believed it? You and I can’t forgive sin, so why do we try to treat it? We can however love the sinner, so why not do that instead?

So many people in this world need hope. So many are fighting unseen battles. Too many lose those battles without knowing there is someone who loves them and there is a God who can forgive and heal them. They’re afraid to come out because of what others might say or how they might be treated. If they knew that they would be shown love as a person and not treated as the disease or sin they have, they would be more willing to be open about it. They would get to see God through our actions of love and find forgiveness and healing from their sin. We could in essence start a revival through love. It has to start sometime, why not now? It has to start somewhere, why not with you and me?


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A Life Exposed

When I was a kid, there was a boy who lived in my town named David. I didn’t know him, but I knew of him because I had seen him on the news often. They talked about him at my school and we were encouraged to draw pictures and send him letters. David wasn’t like everyone else. He had a disease that gave him a weak immune system. In order to help him survive, they created a sterile chamber for him to live in. Everything that went into the chamber had to go through a seven day sterilization process. He became known as David the Bubble Boy.


David never got to have skin to skin contact with anyone. His parents and doctors had to wear special gloves to touch him. He never got to experience the feeling of grass under his toes or to feel the wind on his face. His whole life was spent in that sterile environment. It was psychologically difficult for him to be able to see others interact and express love through touch knowing he could not. He struggled with being contained in that environment knowing that there was more to life than being in a bubble.

We have to be careful ourselves that we don’t live in a spiritual bubble trying not to get infected by the world. We were not meant to live our entire lives in the safety and confines of the church. We were called to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel to everyone. We can’t go if we are afraid that we will be exposed to sin and therefor be susceptible to it. Jesus took a lot of hear from the Pharisees because He would go to the homes of sinners and love them. He didn’t care if a person was unclean. He reached out and touched them because that’s what we all need.

The Pharisees had built a spiritual bubble for themselves. They thought it made them holier than anyone. What it did was separate them from their mission. Jesus looked at them and said, “Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” We can separate ourselves from everything evil in this world and look the part of being righteous, but until we get out there and do the will of God, we are doing nothing more than living in a bubble. If we are to follow Christ’s example, we are to get out of those bubbles and minister to those who need it most.

Life in the bubble is nice for a while. There’s no risk, no chance of failure and no fear. The problem is the Gospel doesn’t flourish in a bubble. It only grows when it’s exposed to the outside world and sin. It can only touch the lives of those who touch it. It cannot be contained and therefor neither can you or I. We must break out of our safety bubbles and risk our lives for the Gospel. We are going to run the risk of failure, but we can’t let failure stop us. Every person that rejects the Gospel from you gets you one person closer to one who will accept it. Every life you touch will have a seed planted in it or a seed watered. We have to be about the Father’s business and we can’t do it in a bubble.


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Bridges Of Love


How can we be proactive with God’s love? I think that’s a question each of us should ask ourselves daily. In our fast paced world where we are inundated with news and information constantly, we have become very reactive. As soon as we see an event or headline, we’re quick to react and tell the world where we stand or how we feel about it. In our reaction, we are acting out of the heat of the moment and emotion. Being reactive usually builds walls that divide instead of bridges that show love. The only way I’ve seen to build bridges is to be proactive in sharing God’s love.

When you look at Jesus’ life, there were times when He was reactive and proactive. When He would go into the homes of notorious sinners and eat with them. He was bring proactive. He was building bridges of love instead of walls of hate. He knew the best way to win others was to spend time with them. He knew that listening to what they had to say built value in that person. You never hear Jesus blasting them. Usually He blasted the people who had a problem with Him building bridges. There’s security in building walls. There’s monotony in building walls. But there’s vulnerability in loving others and building bridges.

For some reason, we have lost our ability to be vulnerable to the world. We have decided to be known for all the rules and regulations instead of compassion. When that is what we’re known for, we are no better than the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. It drove them crazy that He spent time tearing down the walls of regulations meant to keep others out. It infuriated them that He built bridges over where they had dug ditches. His ability to see the person and not their sin flew in their faces and they killed Him for it. They had lost the over arching message God has always sent the world: Love.

When I look at my life, I ask, “Am I building walls of regulations to separate myself from those who need Jesus or am I building bridges of love to lead them to Him?” If I can quote every scripture that says what sin is, but can’t recall any that teach me how to show love, what have I gained? We quote I Corinthians 13 in weddings mainly these days, but it’s really about our message to the world. Verse 2 says, “If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing (MSG).” Without love our message and actions fall on deaf ears.

So, I ask again, how can we be proactive with God’s love today? What can you do to show others His love instead of His anger? Where can you build a bridge today instead of a wall? Who in your life needs you to listen to them instead of preach at them? Who in your path needs a hand that will lift them up instead of pushing them down? Each of us have the responsibility to love. Each of us have the capacity to do it. Jesus said the world would know us by our love. He didn’t say they’d know us by what we’re against. It’s time to be proactive with His love.

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