Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

A Balanced Approach To Sinful (and Suffering) Sinners

In our services yesterday, I preached on Luke 17:1-10, where I spent a great deal of time unpacking sin's severity based on the illustration Jesus provides in verse two. And all that was toward the application that we should take sin very seriously in the community of disciples, rebuking sinners when necessary, in order that we might save them from the sinfulness and devastating consequences of sin.

We must not take these things lightly, for sin is horrific for both the sinner and the community. You can listen to that sermon here.

While all of this is true, we must also have a balanced approach to sinful sinners. Our hearts must be properly aligned with the heart of God, and the brokenness of this world. Our firmness toward sin must not lack compassion or love. I ran out of time to share a wonderful encouragement from Kevin DeYoung on keeping this in mind when addressing sin in one of our brothers or sisters in the family of God:

It is always true: we have sinned against God more than anyone has sinned against us. Which means our suffering does not excuse our sinning.
And yet, it is also true that every sinner is in some way, often in profound ways, a great sufferer.
This does not justify the sin, but ought to give us some compassion for the sinner.
Have you ever wanted people to give you the benefit of the doubt? Have you you ever had “one of those days,” and hoped that others would cut you some slack? Have you ever gone through a hard time that left you exhausted, frayed, and afraid? Have we ever considered that we may not know everything going on in someone’s life?
People tire of the slogan: hate the sin and love the sinner. Maybe we can get at the same idea by saying: hate the sin and hate the suffering. Life is hard, and the hardest people have often had the hardest life. Confrontation and consolation–that was the ministry of Jesus. It should be our ministry too.
What good news that God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Are we?

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