I have a sister in faith that has been walloped by a Bible shaped sledge hammer recently. I know that we are supposed to correct other believers when their feet stray from the path, but do we have to do it so harshly? Isn’t mercy supposed to come into play along the way?
When I strayed a year ago, I was slapped down like the wretch I was. Maybe it was deserved, but it was also devastating. I almost didn’t get back up after that heavy dose of reality. Without God, I never would have crawled back out of that mire. And I was a believer at the time who chose a wrong path. How much harder is it for a non-believer to choose the path of righteousness when the spirit of condemnation follows them in everything they do?
Forgiveness is preached in the pulpit, but if it isn’t felt in the heart, does it exist. Can we really help “the least of these” when all we see are their faults? Isn’t there something more than moral absolution?
In the Greek, the definite article “the” is used when the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax- collector is told. Most English translations put the indefinite article “A” in that sentence. How differently does the sentence read when you change out that one simple word. “God have mercy on me, ‘the’ sinner”. Out of the whole world the only one whose sin he was concerned with was his own. We shouldn’t compare the sins of another to our own. What tempts them may not bother us, but that doesn’t mean it is worse than what we do.
I can’t look on someone else’s sin and condemn for I am “the” sinner. I am nothing without Christ. I am alone and appalling without his love. I am disgusting and dirty without his redeeming spirit. But with Christ, I am pure and appealing, delightful and dignified, I am loved! How could I not want this kind of Grace for everyone I meet? Whatever their background, I want them to know righteousness through the blood of Christ.
But they won’t listen to the salvation story if I accuse them before I love them. If I swing that sledge hammer towards them with such ferocity that the message of love is lost in the message of sin.
We must be gentle indicators of the love of Christ to non-believers and believers. Sometimes people stray from the word, but a kind heart can help them back.
Let’s lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Equipping each other for battle against sin instead of mocking those that have fallen into temptation.
Luke 18:9-14New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a (the) sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.