It’s a catchy phrase. Everyone uses it whenever there is a discussion about Christians interacting with people that live counter to Scripture (or their interpretation of Scripture).

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

But how do we do that? It’s easier said than done. It can be difficult to see the distinction between sinner and sin.

Thankfully, C.S. Lewis has some wise words to help get us see the line between.

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. …I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man?

But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life —namely myself.

However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”

– C.S. Lewis

It isn’t as hard to love the sinner and hate the sin as we often think, because we are doing it all the time. We love ourselves even though we do things that we hate and condemn in ourselves.

The problem is, we don’t know it. We don’t see it that way.

But when we do, when we turn those eyes of grace from ourselves to others, it is easier to see the sinner and not just the sin. It becomes that much easier to share the love of Christ because we know what it like to receive it.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.

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  1. Mark McClure

    Dude, I sooo needed to hear this, thank you! I really am tempted to treat someone with contempt because they have hurt me pretty bad, but all day I have felt God saying something along these lines…this just sealed the deal! Thank you