Condemning Sin or Imparting Grace

Condemning Sin or Imparting Grace


Harold_Copping_The_Prodigal_Son_400On August 30th last year, I wrote somewhat of a controversial post titled “Love thy gay neighbor”. One of my friends, over the phone told me that I had gone overboard with it and that if someone was a liar or a thief would I love them too? He is not a bad person but he wanted to convey his point and so he did and I gently explained to him why I wrote what I wrote and that I stood by it. Yes I do support the gay cause, I say this at a risk of offending my close friends but I have good reasons to hold on to what I believe and I love my friends and hope that they see my reasons too. But back then when I told my friend this, he replied:

“But shouldn’t we condemn sin?”

And it caught my attention. Because I have was hoping he would say:

“But shouldn’t we love the sinner?” he didn’t say that.

This regrettably shows the attitude we Christians on the upfront have adapted. It is strictly not about the gay issue, it is about every issue that we take an offense to. Talking with my friend six months back, I realized this is what the church generally is teaching our congregations and our children, they teach them to condemn, we may not have been teaching them this aggressively but that scale tips because we teach them this attitude passively by playing it out in front of them. Through our actions we validate our error and pass it on.

Our focus has shifted. We are called the house of God, but we are moving towards the point where we are a house of legalistic people who pick out gnats but leave the greater truths of the gospel, love and mercy, aside. What difference is there among us and the pharisees of Christ’s time, if we are only looking to condemn, let that be people or sin, we don’t care; the whole point of Christ dying for sinners is lost when we engage in this behavior.

I often hear, “we condemn sin, not the sinner”, but let me tell you that to most people out there, the difference between the two is virtually none. And in practice it is very hard to draw lines to differentiate the two. If you condemn the sin then you don’t love the sinner too, especially if that sinner is a gay person. You can say you love that person, but it won’t be the same way the gospel commands us to love our fellow sinners, which is to love them as we love ourselves, with all our heart.

It is a rather embarrassing truth but sometimes people take up the seat of God, keeping it warm till judgement day comes. The point in question is, I can’t remember a single time when Christ condemned people. I can’t find it, except for hypocritical legalistic people.

But the lost, the sinner, the prostitutes,  the tax collectors  the murderers and the thief, the idol worshipers – did Christ ever condemn them the same way we do?

We need to ask these questions, what is the attitude of my church to lost people? what is my attitude towards someone who is lost in sin (that may be any sin)?

“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.”

Do you pray like this? does your church’s attitude towards prayer is like this? A version of “We don’t hate sinners but we sure are happy we stay away from them.”?

Grace means UNMERITED FAVOR, period. And part of receiving grace from God means we are commanded to give others grace as well.

The parable of the unmerciful servant explains this:

Matthew 18:21-35

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’

If we are only extending God’s grace to the people who we see as good then that is not grace at all. Grace is only grace when it is given to someone who does not deserve it at all.

Love your fellow men without discrimination or prejudice.  Someone may be a murderer but he is also someone for whom the son of God died, paid the price of his sins. And when we judge such a person we declare ourselves more righteous and just than God, which in its essence a sin itself.

The kingdom of heaven is of people who are forgiven and are forgiving. We are never called to condemn people. Our fight is not with flesh and blood. We are called the light in darkness, we are to represent God’s love without taking sides. Always let the love of God, the cross of Christ be the center of your message. At the end of the day people don’t turn because of clever arguments they do so because they see themselves loved and accepted. They find grace from within you. So don’t hold back grace. Be merciful and sympathetic and remember that we too were once sinners.

So are we not obligated to extend the same grace to others which was extended to us?

Indeed we are and I know that God is infinitely merciful to all, to you and me and to the lost.

The question is are we merciful to the lost?

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6 thoughts on “Condemning Sin or Imparting Grace

  1. Christ, or your Jesus did condemn by omission when he said he only came for the Jews. I know this is a moot point in your post, but you couldn’t remember a time when he condemned… I think this qualifies.

    I do not agree with your belief, but your call for compassion and empathy is exactly what I would call for as an atheist. It is common human decency. What I read here is that you see religious people and institutions that do not have common human decency. It does not take religion to have such.. but as you blog here, religions _should_ have it and do not.

    1. There is a distinction here which I think you are unaware of. Christ came for all, he only preached his message to the Jews first. Christ himself commanded to preach his message to the world. There is no omission of that sort.

      And yes, it is common decency to respect others, atheists and believers alike. By the way not all religious institutions act the same way, neither do all believers. But yes there is a cry for condemnation and that needs to be addressed wherever it is. The issue is certainly not simple.

  2. Thank you, John. It reminds me of something God brings me back to, all the time. It’s the verse in Micah 6:8 that says , ” . . .to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humble with your God.” I am always drawn to the words, to LOVE mercy, and ask myself each day . ..do I love being merciful? Praying to more and more. God bless you!

    1. Thank you Deb, I have learnt that it is only in forgiveness that we are finally able to have peace in our souls.

      Matthew 5:7
      “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

      Praying for you.

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