but hates the sin

One of the most memorable and often quoted lines from the movie Forrest Gump is “My momma always said ‘Life is like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re going to get.’” There is truth within this metaphor that goes beyond the fact that we cannot foresee what lies ahead in life. There is much more that lies beyond our poor abilities to sense, to feel, to see, and to understand. What lies within the soul is forever hidden from human eyes, but God sees, God knows, and He loves you anyway.

We are all sinners; no one is without sin except God. Sin tarnishes and damages the soul. Jesus became man, suffered and died so that our sins would be forgiven. His life was and is a testament to God’s unwavering desire to forgive sin and to unconditionally love the sinner. While only partially scriptural, the saying “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” accurately describes God’s love for us.

Peter Kreeft, in his book Making Choices, says

This is not a hairsplitting, abstract, technical distinction for scholars and theologians. It is crucial and practical. If we love the sin, we do not love the sinner, just as if we love the cancer, we do not love the patient.

There is a proper kind of hate. Even God has ‘wrath’ (unless Scripture lies). God does not hate any sinner, not even the worst. Jesus loved Judas to the last, and called him ‘friend.’ God loves Stalin and Hitler and Charles Manson, as David loved his rebel son Absalom, and for the same reason: He is our Father. But God hates sin, and so should we. To hate people is to lack compassion.”

If we doubt God’s love for the sinner and His hatred for sin, all we have to do is recall all the sinners (remember we are all sinners) who became saints despite their sinfulness. Saint Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, imprisoned and condemned those who followed Jesus. Yet God loved him and forgave him. Saint Augustine, a Doctor of the Church, was guilty of living a hedonistic lifestyle, and for a period of time, was a pagan and a follower of several heretical cults. Yet God loved him and forgave him. Saint Francis of Assisi was a wealthy young man who was known for his love of the many pleasures in life and was a soldier for a time. Yet God loved him and forgave him. Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a proud and vain young man who sought glory in battle and the killing of those who were not Christian. Yet God loved him and forgave him.

All saints are and were sinners simply because we, all of humanity, are sinners. What sets them apart, what made them saints is that they came to love the sinner but hate the sin. They discovered the truth that comes to light only through the humble recognition of their own fragile humanity, that all they had been given was a gift, freely given, by their Creator. Nothing that they had achieved, nothing that they gained was through their sole power. They learned that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” [Lk 18:14].

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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