We hear it all the time but do we actually do it? Do we "practice what we preach"? I bet there are many who will say "Amen"! to the statement "Hate the sin, but love the sinner". I'll even bet that there are many who would say " I say this all the time". I do wonder though how many would actually do this when it is not convenient for them. I bet there are some who only practice this when it comes to someone they love dearly, a son or daughter, a spouse, a sibling, etc... But how many actually practice this with a stranger or those who aren't so lovable? Someone who has crossed the line, or someone who has stolen from you, or maybe someone who has dumped their problems on your lap causing stress and dysfunction in your life, does this practice still apply? Are we to still "love the sinner" when all they do is turn our life upside down? Is there a difference between "loving the sinner" and "forgiving the sinner"?
First let me say this, forgiving the sinner is an act of love, so yes, "loving the sinner" and "forgiving the sinner" is one in the same. There are different degrees in which we love. We have love for our parents, our children and family. We have a different type of love for our spouses, and a yet another kind of love for our friends. But we also have a level of love for a total stranger, that is if we have Christ in us. Yes, complete strangers we should have a love for. (Hebrews 13:2) "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." This love is a compassionate love. Love for another human being no matter what the relationship is what we are taught in Scripture (John 13:35) "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” and also (Jude 1:22,23) "And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." just to name a couple.
You see my friends, I have experienced what it's like to have close and distant family members and close friends who were and are drug addicts and alcoholics. I have seen first hand what these people have gone through. I have seen what family goes through. I have lost a few also to these addictions. I have experienced the pain.
I cannot tell you how many times I "blew my cool" in frustration. It's heartbreaking. But I have learned so much by going through those experiences. they have also made me a more compassionate person. I cannot tell you how many times I confronted an addict family member in a fit of rage after hearing about them stealing from my mother or their mother, their brothers and sisters, and their friends. See, I didn't have the patience for it back then but some of my family did. I would get into arguments with them asking why they allow this to happen, why they don't confront them, or why they don't just kick them out on the street. I did these things out of pure frustration. I was in a frame of mind that if we showed them "tough love" that it would straighten them up real quick. Well, that's not always true. It took me a long time to realize this. It took the Holy Spirit many years to soften my heart. Unfortunately I had lost a couple of them before I finally "got it". Loosing them was my "wake-up call".
Folks, please listen to what I am telling you. Now I am definitely not one who has jumped on the bandwagon referring to addictions as a "disease". I think that is ridiculous honestly. A disease is something that you have without any participation from yourself. In addiction, there was an "initial starting point" that the addict initiated trying it for the first time. We learn from a young age that we shouldn't do certain things because it is "addictive". I do understand that addicts don't get involved in the substance with the intent of getting addicted but that doesn't make it a disease. Having an "addictive personality" doesn't make it a disease either. Now there are some who will say that smoking cigarettes causes cancer and cancer is a disease. Yes, cancer is a disease but smoking cigarettes is not, just as alcoholism could cause sclerosis of the liver among other things. My point is that it's not the action or substance that is the disease, it's the effect of the action or substance that causes a disease. Now we can get into a whole other conversation about what causes the addictive personality, like curses, demons, etc. but I will save that for another blog.
Anyway, before I get too far off track here (I get passionate about this subject) let me continue to describe to you the difference in this love we are to show to all people. Now I have known people who say they are compassionate people that would help anyone in need, yet they turn their backs to someone who does bad things because of their addiction. They will say something like " Well they did it to themselves, I'm not going to help them" and my thought instantly is but I thought you just told me you are compassionate for people in need? An addict is a person "in need". Sometimes more so than others. Yet some people turn their back to them. I'll be honest here, many years ago I too had that way of thinking. I couldn't be bothered, but as I mentioned above, God allowed me to go through experiencing those situations for a purpose, His purpose. That purpose was to open my heart and mind and feel what these people felt. I could never ever again turn my back on an addict. They are people, just as you & I are. They need help, regardless how they ended up in the situation they're in, it is our duty being representatives of Christ to extend our hand out to them, and our hearts.
Now don't take me wrong, I am not saying we should all be running a "half-way house". But I do believe we can all do something to extend a hand to someone. Every situation is unique. But I know that if you search your heart you'll find a way to help someone when you are facing this situation.
There are basic things you can do, like make sure they have a place to sleep, make sure they have eaten, take time to research different organizations that could help them, give them a ride to a shelter, and most importantly, talk to them about Jesus and how His strength can have miraculous results, invite them to your church service and offer them a ride if they need one. Folks, It's that initial hand reaching to them that they'll always remember, even if it doesn't seem effective, they will remember so long as you do it in love.
Now I don't want anyone to think I am saying this is an easy task, I know it's not. But to be persistent in a loving way, sooner or later you'll get through to them. Do not give up, yet don't be too pushy. The last thing you want is to give them a bad "taste in their mouth" and reject you and everything you're trying to do for them. It's a fine line I know. Now I am not going to go into great detail about how to get through to them because I do not know the situation you are or may be faced with and I am not a Addiction Counselor. But I will tell you that the power of Christ through your prayers will be more effective than anything I can say anyway. Just as anything else, we pray. Don't expect results the next day, everything is a process. We must give time for the Holy Spirit to work on their hearts. Because we each have our own will, it sometimes takes more time for the Holy Spirit to reach a persons spirit.
Let me end with this, whatever you, DO NOT USE GUILT TRIPS! Do not try to make the person feel guilty about their actions, that is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict them. If you use the guilt trip tactic, you will surely make matters worse. The last thing you want them to do is become suicidal because you have made them feel worthless. PLEASE! DO NOT USE GUILT!
I hope this made a little sense to you.
This is my first blog so please excuse me if it's not what a "blog" should look like.
With experience I hope to get better at it.
Thank you for taking the time to read it. I appreciate you.
May Christ be with you
Feel free to email me if you'd like.