When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out, or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15
Recently someone near and dear to me posted a quote on social media regarding “toxic masculinity.” Someone else near and dear to me commented that she refused to use the term unless there was also a term “toxic femininity.” Further comments from multiple parties disagreed as to whether there was such a thing as “toxic femininity.” Since we’ve all heard “Boys will be boys,” but “Girls will be girls” wasn’t a saying, it was opined that society doesn’t dismiss bad behavior in females the way it does in males. This comment was met with “Oh no? Have you seen a movie or TV show lately?” (“Lately” being the last fifty years or so.) Females behaving badly has not only been tolerated, it has been celebrated in some circles. The fact is, men and women (in general) each have their own weaknesses, and a woman can take advantage of a man’s weakness to get what she wants just as much as a man can take advantage of a woman’s weakness to get what he wants. Admit it, abuse and manipulation happens on both sides.
Here’s the bottom line, folks: Men are sinners.
Women are sinners.
Old people, young people, and middle-aged people are sinners.
Rich people, poor people, and middle-class people are sinners.
White, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and Middle Eastern people are sinners.
Since Jesus Christ is no longer here in the flesh, it’s safe to assume that when you look at another human being, you’re looking at a sinner.
For that matter, if you look in a mirror, you’re looking at a sinner. So, what are we to do?
I’ll tell you what we don’t do – point fingers at whole groups of people in a way that is only going to escalate hostility.
Sinners have agendas, and unfortunately there are those whose agenda is to pit groups against one another, encouraging rude, mean-spirited, even outrageous (emphasis on “rage”) behavior. For some, hate gets ratings, and for others, hate gets votes.
But before we start raging against the media and politicians, we should ask ourselves, If hate pays off, whose fault is that? If hate is what motivates us to watch certain news programs or vote for certain candidates – or repost, share, and retweet certain articles, then shame on us.
As Casting Crowns has observed, “Nobody knows what we’re for, only what we’re against…” *
So, what are we supposed to do – ignore bad behavior? No, but Jesus gave us 2-step instructions for detoxing:
“First, take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
After doing the hard work of removing my own “plank,” I tend to be more compassionate as I seek to help others with their faults. I may also have some insights into what strategies do and don’t work, which will be helpful, as well.
I may even realize that I’m the one that needs to change my position. (>Ouch!<)
“Blessed are the peacemakers …” (Matthew 5:9a) Admitting my own shortcomings is the starting point in making peace, not only with my fellow sinners, but more importantly, with God.
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
When I realize my sin has earned me an eternal death sentence, that I am helpless to save myself, it is only then that salvation is possible. There is only One who is sinless, who came from heaven in the form of one of us, and who died in our place to pay the price for our forgiveness. Since only a perfect sacrifice is acceptable to God, we could never have paid the debt ourselves. (No one else could, either.)
Jesus didn’t come to show us the way, He came to be the way. – the only way. (John 14:6)
So, rather than look a round at others, saying, “At least I’m not as bad as _________,” let’s look to Jesus, the perfect One, confess our own sin, and receive the cleansing – the detoxing – He offers.
Imagine if everyone did that! The nightly news might get pretty boring, but I’m willing to risk it. How about you?
Prayer: Jesus, Friend of sinners, help us to look at our own sins and shortcomings before dealing with others that we perceive as being worse than ourselves. Let us seek to lead by example, to be quick to commend the goodness in people and slow to condemn those who are stumbling. Make us part of the solution, rather than the problem. In Jesus’ name. Amen
*”Jesus, Friend of Sinners,” Songwriters: Mark Hall, Matthew West
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