“Hate the sin, but love the sinner.”
A 4-year old boy came into the hospital this week with a horrible infection in his neck. Horrible infections are not too rare in this country, but this kid has a hole in his neck. A hole that you can stick a Q-tip in all the way through to the inside of his mouth. Oh yeah, and he’s missing most of the skin on his neck. Oh yeah, the infection has also spread down his shoulder blade.
Will he live? I don’t know. Will he suffer so much it would be better if he died? I don’t know. Chances are, he will do one of the two.
He’s only 4. You can see the pain in his eyes as the hospital staff changes his dressings. It’s bad enough when little kids die here–it’s even worse when they suffer like that. It’s a cliché, but it’s true–there are things worse than death.
Watching it makes me angry. It’s not his fault–he’s only 4! It’s easier to feel OK when a man is dying of lung cancer after years of smoking–I mean, it’s still sad, but he lived a decent life and it’s sorta his fault. it’s a whole different ball game when it’s a 4-year old though.
What if it was my kid on that table? What if my kid was suffering like that? I’d be looking for who did it to him. And whoever did it would be getting a bullet between his eyes. At the exact same time, I’d be doing everything for my kid. Anything to make him better. I would spend any amount of money, any amount of time. I would fight to see that he got the best care.
So who did it to the kid? In one sense, no one. It was just the result of life in Tchad. But in another very real sense, sin did it. And ultimately, Satan did it.
Sin is horrible. Sin is awful. We say that, but do we really recognize it? That kid’s suffering–it’s the result of sin. As a human race, we chose Satan. This boy is suffering as a direct result of that choice.
When you tell that lie, when you don’t help out that homeless guy by the side of the road, when you selfishly choose your work over those who really need you, you are choosing Satan’s way. It may seem harmless, but sin is never harmless. It always leads to death. Always.
“Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Really? Hate the sin, sure. Love the sinner, sure. But why not say instead, “Love sinners so much that you hate sin.” Love people so much that you hate what causes their suffering. Love that little boy so much that you hate the sin-filled world that caused his pain. Love the people around you so much that you hate the sin in your life that causes them pain.
Only when you start from love for the sinner–the love that God gives–will you truly hate the sin. You can’t start from hating the sin–you’ll just hate the sinner too. You have to start where God does–from love.
“God–give me your heart. Help me to love those around me so much that I hate sin. Help me to love every person and to hate every sin.”