“Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.” Jude 23 (The Message Bible)
“Love the sinner—hate the sin.” Eugene Peterson, author of “The Message,” uses more eloquent words in this scripture—“tender” and “soft.”
Years ago a family from my church lost a brilliant and talented son in a bicycle accident in Japan. After college David chose to go to the mission field and teach English. One afternoon a young mother fell asleep at the wheel of her car and hit David. Shortly after the accident, David’s parents went to Japan and found the woman, who was not a Christian, and forgave her. It was too much for her to understand that someone could forgive her for choosing to drive a car while being too tired. It was too much for David’s parents to not forgive her.
This isn’t a story of “sin that stinks to high heaven”—such as when a child is molested or someone beats up a neighbor—but it reminds us of the need to be tender to those who have sinned, while hating the sin and regardless of the pain it caused.
Dear Lord, when I fall into sin, catch me in your wide arms of grace. Amen.