Do you love the sinner? Do you treat others the way you want to be treated? Do you follow the example of Jesus Christ who showed His love to sinners? If you have the Spirit of Christ indwelling you then you will love the sinner. Jesus instructed us how we should love the sinner. We can see where we stand if we compare our behavior with the commandments of Christ. We can see if we do love the sinner.
Jesus not only told us how to love the sinner, He also modeled that behavior for us. When He was hanging upon the cross, dying for the sins of the world, dying to reconcile us to God, He said these statements from the cross showing His love for the sinner.
33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right had and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. Luke 23:33-34
Later on He assured one of the criminals of eternal life for his faith in Jesus Christ.
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
Showing us how to love our family members, the sinners in our families, He reached out to His mother while hanging on the cross.
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 26 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his home. John 19:25-27
In each instance He showed no concern for Himself, only for the sinners that He ministered to while dying on the cross, a death that for Him was unjust, but for us, our justification. He did not retaliate; He did not cry out, He did not call curses on or threaten those who were persecuting Him. He asked the Father to forgive them because the crucified Him in ignorance. He assured the dying criminal of eternal life because of his statement of faith. He delivered His mother to His beloved disciple so that she would be taken care of in the faith. He did all for others, He did all for sinners. Do you love the sinner?
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught sinners how to love sinners through many amazing exhortations beginning in Matthew chapter five.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. 27 You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you ; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for you whole body to be cast into hell. 31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 “But I say to you, do not swear at all; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heave is perfect.” Matthew 5:21-48
Our relationship to the sinner is to mirror Christ’s love for the sinner and God’s gracious mercy given to all, the wicked as well as the righteous. We must love the sinner from the heart for that is where all behavior originates. We must be severe with ourselves so we can love the sinner with purity and God’s grace. Our conduct must be honest and humble. This high and lofty standard is impossible for any but the ones who have been born again by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and His awesome work on the cross for us and resurrection from the dead and who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Additionally, we cannot obey God’s commands if we are in fellowship with false teachers and compromisers because we will be led by the flesh, and flesh begets flesh. We must walk in the light as He is in the light in order to obey and love the sinner. Do you love the sinner?
God continues to give His exhortation to love the sinner in the epistles; and in 1 Peter chapter three we are given glorious commands that embody true love for the sinner, the saved and the lost.
8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For “He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and purse it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 1 Peter 3:8-16
Ultimately we love the sinner by doing good. If our brothers or sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ sin against us, we must ask the Lord to bless them. We can seek to reconcile with them, but it must be done on the Lord’s terms with grace and forgiveness. If unbelievers attack our good conduct in Christ Jesus, we must stand our ground and continue to do good, sharing the truth about Jesus Christ and His gospel as we have opportunity.
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”,23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might lie for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:19
Our commitment to doing good and loving the sinner bears witness to our understanding that we are doing the will of God and He is leading us in all of life. As we love the sinner, we exemplify the glory of Jesus Christ and His love for mankind. Let us do good to all around us that God may be glorified and the sinner saved. During the past few years, my wonderful Father has given my husband and me the opportunity to love a sinner, a family member who has gone astray. We have seen Jesus answer prayers and make provision as we have served Him in loving the sinner. Do you love the sinner? May we remember the example that Jesus Christ our beloved Lord and Savior has given us, and love the sinner as He gives us grace and opportunity. May the Lord bless us for this blessed task.