Can I Have Convictions and Still Be Loving?
How could anyone who is a child of God hate someone? The Bible tells us plainly that God made all human beings in His image. How terrible it would be to denigrate someone, anyone, since all of us were made in God’s image! What does it matter if we are different? Skin a different color? Different opinions? Skills, gifts, language all different? But every one of us was created by a loving God who made us different on purpose! Why should we hate one anotherfor our differences?
The most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, says that because God loves the whole world, He gave us Jesus to die in our place. If God loves the whole world so much that He gave us Jesus—and He does—and He loves you and He loves me—and He does—then surely we ought to love others in His world. Love each other, yes, no matter how we differ in politics or economic theories or ethnic differences or life-style choices.
There’s a street in our town I avoid when I can because of a sign on a well-meaning home-owner’s lawn. It says, “Hate has no home here!” Underneath the slogan are symbols of all kinds of lifestyle choices, some good, but some of them I believe to be very destructive. The sign implies that if I have any convictions that differ from the home owner’s, I am a hateful person.
I wish those people knew my heart. I am a Christian. I believe the Bible is God’s Word. The Bible says that God declares some lifestyle choices wrong. God didn’t make an arbitrary choice against or for certain things. Rather, God hates certain lifestyle choices because they are destructive, because they do terrible damage to the human beings He created with such love.
So when I see that sign that seems to accuse me of hating simply because of my convictions about certain things, I cringe. Nothing could be further from how I truly feel. Every time I hear of a life lost by a drug overdose, I grieve for everyone involved, and especially the drug user, trapped by such a terrible, addictive habit. If I read of a fatal accident caused by a drunken driver, my heart goes out to every one hurt by that poor person’s dependence on a curse.
That’s why I feel so comforted by God’s guidelines for this problem. He says, in Jude 1:21-23:
Live in such a way that God’s love can bless you
as you wait for the eternal life that
our Lord Jesus Christ in His mercy is going to give you.
Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.
Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment.
There are still others to whom you need to show mercy,
but be careful that you aren’t contaminated by their sins.
And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling,
and who will bring you into His glorious presence
innocent of sin and with great joy.
Hate the sin that causes so much heartache? Yes. But love the people trapped by their sin? Oh, yes! Help them to come to faith in Christ if I can? Yes.
That’s what I wish I could tell that homeowner with the troublesome sign on his front lawn..
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford