April 7, 2024

The Sins You Love to Hate

“Well, I’m not perfect, but at least I don’t do THAT!”

You’ve heard these words many times before. Honestly, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve said these words before, or at least something which expresses a very similar sentiment. We all have! And no wonder! On a daily basis, just going about our normal routines, it’s a near certainty that we will see or hear about some of the awful things going on in the world.

Things that we know are wrong.

Things that offend us.

Things that hurt our feelings.

Things that hurt other people.

But then there are some things that really get to us. Things which we would never, ever do. Things that we would never even imagine doing. Things which are so vile, so disgusting, so inherently evil that we wish God would just reach down and smite the people who are involved!

They deserve all the worst punishments that we can think of, and yet they keep getting away with this insanity.

How infuriating!

How dare they??

How can they not understand that what they are doing is horrific? It’s not only a violation of God’s law, but it flies in the face of nature itself! A little common sense should tell you that this is wrong!

These sins are a lot like villainous characters in movies, in that you love to hate them. These are the ones that you think of as being particularly bad, and you feel absolutely justified in railing against. They are the ones that you really (if you’re being totally honest) don’t think should be forgiven at all.

Those are things that no Christian would ever do, anyway.


If you happened to catch my last essay, you know that there is only one sin which is actually unforgivable. Odds are, whatever your favorite villainous sin may be, it’s probably not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which the Bible names as the one and only sin which will never be forgiven. I’d venture a guess that if you actually saw someone committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, you would probably feel a range of emotions, including a sense of pity for any soul who was that irrevocably estranged from God.

But what about that person who is guilty of your own personal most-hated sin? You feel no pity for that depraved soul. They certainly don’t deserve to be forgiven if they would do that, do they?

So tell me… which sin is it? What is the sin that you love to hate? There are so, so many to choose from!

Sex trafficking? Pornography? Murder? Rape? Pedophilia? Homosexuality? Homophobia? Transgenderism? Transphobia? Xenophobia? Racism? Abortion? Addiction? The list goes on, and these are all topics that generate very intense feelings; so much so that some people dedicate their entire lives to fighting against whichever issue triggers them the most. Even if you don’t classify yourself as a crusader against any particular sin, there’s bound to be one sin that you Just. Can’t. Stand.

If someone does that, they deserve to burn, don’t they?

But what about the sin that you are living with? The one that you won’t openly admit to, or which you always explain away as if it shouldn’t really count as a sin? You go out of your way to justify keeping it in your life. You perform exhausting mental and spiritual gymnastics to rationalize why it’s ok for you to keep doing it.

It’s not that bad, anyway. I mean, really… everybody does it. It’s fine.


Or perhaps you go to great pains to hide it. After all, ok, it might be wrong, but you’re not hurting anybody, so why should anyone know? They wouldn’t understand. It’s just a little thing that you keep in the dark, hidden away from everyone, and God understands, right? You do a lot of good things, so He’s bound to let you slide on this one, right?


It’s a sad fact that we human beings consistently judge the sins of other people far more harshly than we judge our own sins. Jesus even comments on this!

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.”  Luke 6:40-42 (see also Matthew 7:3-5)

I’ve often heard nonbelievers complain that Christians are judgmental hypocrites. Honestly, even though we don’t want to admit it, they have a point. Many of us are extremely judgmental in our attitudes and seem to go out of our way to tell people that something they are doing is wrong. This attitude inevitably reveals our own hypocrisy, for in truth, there has never been a Christian who has walked perfectly before God, nor will there ever be. Christ, and only Christ, is the only human being to have ever lived a perfect life.

So, the question must be asked: how do we avoid judgmentalism and hypocrisy? Do we simply remain silent on matters of sin in the world?

Jesus has provided the most direct answer in the verses listed above: first, take the log out of your own eye… The Christian life requires honest introspection, and that’s often a very painful process. The ability to look at yourself and take an honest inventory of faults and sins requires a great deal of maturity, discernment, and wisdom. Harder still: not only do you have to identify the places where you fall short, you must then take steps to correct these flaws.

Fortunately, we are not alone in this process. God tells us repeatedly in the scriptures that He will be with us. Furthermore, we have each other, and the Bible clearly tells us that we are to “…encourage one another and build one another up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

I have personally experienced the life-changing power of Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Some prosperity gospel preachers twist this verse to make it mean that God will give you material things if you ask, but that’s not at all what this verse teaches. If you will put God first in your life, He will give you what you want, because He will change what it is that you want. He will put correct desires in your heart that align with His will for your life, and believe me, you will be happier for it. This verse is properly contextualized by another verse from the book of Psalms…

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51.10

After we have removed the log from our own eyes, Jesus then tells us that we will be able to see more clearly, so that we may actually be able to help our brother with the speck in his eye. We must understand the full context of this command, though. It should go without saying that the word “brother” in this verse is a generic use of the masculine term, and it clearly applies to women as much as it does to men. However, given the times in which we live, I think it best to clarify that this command is totally inclusive. Furthermore, Jesus isn’t actually referring strictly to biological siblings when he says “brother.” The whole situation Jesus mentions is predicated upon the existence of a close relationship between the two individuals involved.

What this verse does not do is give Christians the right to become the morality police for total strangers. In fact, the Bible actually warns us against doing that kind of thing.

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4

“…Those outside the church it is not my business to judge, but surely it is your business to judge those who are inside the church—God alone can judge those who are outside…” 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (Phillips Translation)

Imagine your own reaction when a friend points out one of your failings. It’s easy to imagine that you might feel embarrassed, especially if you knew beforehand that you were in the wrong (but chose to do it anyway). If you had done something which you hadn’t previously considered to be wrong or hurtful, surely you understand how you might at first feel hurt or even angry when confronted with your misdeeds. But coming from a close friend, this rebuke is something you would (hopefully) take seriously, or at least think about.

Now imagine your reaction to a complete stranger who comes along and roasts you for something that you truly believe is perfectly acceptable behavior. What is your reaction likely to be? Be honest! You’re likely to feel indignant and angry. You might even lose your cool and respond in a way that could hardly be described as Christian. Now, reverse the scenario. You approach a total stranger and start telling them about their sin, and how Hell is real, and how they absolutely must change their entire lifestyle.

Is it really so surprising that they would see you as a judgmental busybody? A bigot? A sexist? A homophobe? Etc., etc., etc…

How effective is this strategy for winning souls for Christ apt to be? If you said “not effective at all,” then you’re almost right. Truth be told, this methodology is one of the surest ways to push a nonbeliever even further away from God than they were before.

What do you think God might say about those who push people away from Him?

Aside from our judgmental tendencies, we also display a great proclivity for overlooking sinful behaviors within our own ranks. Oh, not all sins! No, we will most certainly go after the pastor who misappropriates church funds, the deacon who had an affair, or the single mom who has a drinking problem. But what about the group of little old blue-haired ladies that gossip about everyone all the time? Oh, that’s ok. They’re harmless. What about the grumpy old curmudgeon who barks at teenagers about how they should never come to church dressed like that? It’s ok. He has the whole Bible memorized, so you should really listen to him. And obey his words they might, by not coming back to church. At all.

I’m an overweight guy. Yes, I’m tall. Six feet, five inches to be exact, but I tip the scale right now at almost 450 pounds. Do you know how many times a church member has accused me of gluttony? Not once. Not a single time. And you know what else? I see an awful lot of fat preachers. And yet, never a word is spoken about how maybe we could stand to cut back on the portion sizes. On the contrary, we have potlucks and everyone is encouraged to eat all you want! And do you know what the sweet old ladies say to us gluttonous sloths? “Brother Craig, there’s plenty more chicken up there!”

I am guilty of the sin of gluttony. I struggle with it daily. And it’s not like I can hide the evidence. I’m virtually a walking mountain. Now I know that our current culture frowns heavily on body shaming, to the point where my doctor won’t even tell me that I’m fat, but that hasn’t always been the case. And yet, I’ve never once been advised by anyone associated with the church that gluttony is a sin, which it is, and it carries great consequences. Aside from the spiritual consequence that gluttony is a sin which can condemn me to Hell, I’m tired all the time from carrying this extra weight. It’s rough on my knees and ankles. I get out of breath just walking a few steps. It’s bad for my heart, and will probably result in the shortening of my life.

But never a word of warning from the Church.

I say all this simply to point out that we Christians, myself included, are often guilty of cherry-picking particular verses out of the Bible in order to validate our own personal biases. We tend to villainize certain sins while excusing others. We call some abominations while rarely addressing others. We tend to discount James’ words that “whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) This verse alone should put an end to that practice. No matter how good we think ourselves to be, and no matter how vile we may view the actions of others, this one verse put each and every human being in exactly the same category.

So, how do we avoid judgmentalism and hypocrisy? Let us begin with humility and grace, and then go on from there. Ultimately, you and I both have exactly one person over whom we are expected to exercise control, and we see that person every time we look in a mirror. We do have a duty to attempt to influence other Christians to steer away from bad behavior, but even that is rather limited (see Matthew 18:15-17). And as for those folks who we don’t know from Adam? Paul sums it up nicely in Romans 12:18

“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all…”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Support Living In The Bible - Your donations help spread God's word to the ends of the Earth!