“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). God could have judged us and condemned us to hell without mercy, and no one could have questioned Him. Instead, He made provision for our redemption, and did not rub our sins in our faces, even though He is without sin and hates sin.
Having responded to God’s love, we became partners with Him to draw the rest of the world to Him in love. How can we achieve this? The best and surest way is to follow our prototype, Jesus! The apostle Paul admonishes us to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV).
So how did God show us His love? Definitely not by rubbing our sins in our faces, but by presenting to us the gospel of salvation in love, and letting us know the consequences of ignoring it. He implored us to come to Him, and so we did, and now we are set for life.
If we are going to be imitators of God, we need to know what our prototype did and how He did it. Remember when Jesus was out with His disciples, and they went through Sychar, a Samaritan town? Jesus sat by a well because He was tired. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, Jesus asked her for a drink of water. The two had a conversation that led the woman to admitting her immoral life style. Jesus didn’t condemn her for her lifestyle; He offered her the Living Water that wells up in a person to eternal life (see John 4:1-26).
On another occasion, the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery; they wanted her stoned according to the Law. Jesus did not go along with them; He rebuked them for their hypocrisy (see John 8:7), and then encouraged the woman to give up her sinful life style. He said to her, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11 NIV).
As Christians, what should we do when, based on the Word of God, people’s lifestyles are clearly wrong? Should we shame and condemn them? No! Our approach should be sharing the love of God and salvation through Christ. If we follow up with love, God will give the increase at the right time, leading them to faith. Then when we encourage them to read and study the Word, the Holy Spirit will convict them of whatever they happen to be doing wrong.
Let’s remember that we are not called to judge or convict people. We are called to “Go and make disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).
For now, let’s show people love and the way to salvation in Jesus, and leave the convicting, judging, and condemning to God for the appointed time!