Hate the sin, love the sinner

Matthew 7 has a really good quote about judging others. The first verse goes “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (NIV) of which the famous phrase “Judge not, lest ye be judged yourself” comes from.

christians

I was born and raised a Christian and part of the reason I drifted away from the church is due to the unbiblical conduct of Christians. Christians are supposed to be followers of Christ, a beacon of light, the salt of the earth. I’m not talking about Christians committing sins, for that is the lesser evil.

I am turned off by the misguided fundamentalists who are quick to judge, inflexible and unforgiving. These are the ones who whisper, gossip and hate. Yes, hate. Not an emotion you usually associate with Christians. They sow seeds of hate, which is prohibited by the teachings of Jesus.

The Gospel according to St. Matthew has a gem of a phrase in Matthew 7:5: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Taken in context, the preceding verses go “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”

The “speck” and “plank” refers to sin, for the uninitiated. These are the very words uttered by Jesus Christ to his disciples 2,000 years ago.

I like the commentary by Matthew Henry (no relation to the Matthew who wrote the gospel, obviously) which describes the chapter as follows (emphasis mine):

We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people.

The Bible is very clear about this.

Gossip is another thing The Good Book (TM) has a very firm stance about. The Bible equates gossip to murder. I shall pick some choice morsels from the Bible to back this up.

Romans 1:29 – “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.” (Note how Paul puts gossipers and slanderers in the same league as murderers)

1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

James 1:26 – “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

One thing that my father (who is a very devout Christian) taught me is this: love. I’m sure a lot of you is familiar with The First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians – an epistle is a letter) where Paul wrote on the subject in Chapter 13. “Love is patient, love is kind.” Perhaps a more familiar phrase would be “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.

I asked my dad once, how is it possible to love when the people around you insult you, gossip about you, and slander your good name? He replied simply, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin“.

A lot of fundamentalists claim this is not actually biblical and originated from Gandhi’s autobiography where he writes “Hate the sin and not the sinner”. However, St. Augustine taught that ages before Gandhi was even born – Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum which translates to “Love all mankind, but maintain a hatred of their sins”.

I’ve always liked that phrase, not because it provides a convenient excuse for my lifestyle, but because it is biblically sound. 1 John says “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

A true act of love is treating someone with respect and kindness even though you do not approve of their lifestyle.

You talk the talk, you attend church every Sunday, but do you truly walk the walk?

You ask yourself that before you judge me.

I find solace in The Beatitudes: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you…rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”

I leave you with one last verse from the Bible: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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