Minutes With Messiah Logo

Judge or Judgemental?

by Tim O'Hearn

A homosexual act is not an unforgivable sin. Neither, for that matter, is murder, divorce, or even failure to attend the assembly on Sunday night or Wednesday night. God can forgive lying, theft, adultery, and abortion. Because any one sin can cause a person to be lost, by the time they commit some of the big sins that people confront in the political arena, they are probably already lost, anyway.

The question is, how saved are those who are condemning others for all these sins? If by our hateful reaction to the sinner we are putting a stumbling block before those who might want to come to Christ, will God forgive us?

One must recognize sin. Many would say that if we are saved we should have a heart for those who are not. The problem is that some people go beyond that. They try to force others to be moral whether they want to be or not. They want to make decisions for everyone else. Someone recently said, “Someone telling me who I should or shouldn’t marry because of their religion is like getting mad at me for eating a cupcake because you are on a diet.” It is our responsibility to keep sin out of our own lives; we cannot keep sin out of the lives of those who want to sin, as much as we might like to try.

In recent years certain issues have so polarized people that some Christians feel it is their responsibility to legislate morality for others, whether by passing laws or simply telling people how they should act. Especially in America, trying to tell someone what they should do usually elicits the opposite response.

In the long-running musical, The Fantasticks, the parents plot to get their children together by keeping them apart. One song in particular, Never Say No, emphasizes that children do things, such as putting jam on the cat or beans in their ears, “cause we said no.” Nobody wants to hear what they should not do.

This is not to say that we should not point out sin. We can identify sin as sin, without reference to individuals. Our real job, however, is not to identify sin, but to identify the Savior. Pointing out that sin exists, and even what it is, is simply a foundation for the important structure. In fact, pointing out sin without pointing sinners to the solution is like building a foundation and never erecting walls. It leaves the impression that we cannot afford to finish the job.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. (Lk 14:28-30)

Rather, we need to point sinners to the one who can save them from the consequences of their sin. Our ultimate aim should be pointing people to Christ. Put the options before them. Then let them decide for themselves whether to follow him or not. Many will choose to live in sin. We cannot help that; we must expect it. Trying to force people not to sin without giving them a reason not to do so is actually denying the grace of God. It is putting ourselves in the place of God and saying we have to act because he cannot. Will God forgive us for preventing others to come to him by putting a pit in their path? Do we really want to risk it?