Ever have that moment when a certain combination of words imprints into your brain, and you never seem to forget it? There’s one that has made a huge difference in my life. One Sunday years ago, a speaker named Mike Breaux turned an old saying on its head. He referenced the popular adage “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” He expressed his preference to this rewrite.
Love the sinner. Hate your own sin.
This really resonated with me. I was a typical church kid…Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Vacation Bible School, etc. Add to that a Christian education through 8th grade, and you get a lot of references to sin. The imagery around sin was darkness. The connotation was negative. And there was little differentiation between my sin and other people’s sin. I developed the idea that I had a role in identifying sin wherever it may be, internally or externally. I became a professional sin hunter.
When I think about my skills of identifying sin, I admit there was a lack of balance in my targets. It became much more comfortable for me to look for sin in other people. I became quite experienced in recognizing how “those people” were doing it wrong. It seemed a perfect distraction for what was going on in my own life, in my own heart.
I think that is why the edit of the popular phrase to focus on hating my own sin really stuck out to me. How much time did I really spend in self-evaluation? How much more productive would it be to identify and address sin in my own life before I put so much energy into looking outward. It was convicting. It was life changing.
What’s your relationship with the word sin? Could you benefit from a change in perspective?