Updated: Jun 7, 2021
"You must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives."
A popular phrase I often heard when I was growing up was, "love the sinner, but hate the sin." You've probably heard this as well. Yet you might wonder, as I did, where this expression comes from? Is there a Bible verse that says this? In a word, no. You will not find a Bible verse that directly quotes the phrase above. However, one could make the argument that Jude 22-23 comes pretty close.
In verses 22 and 23, Jude writes that believers should show mercy to others. Specifically, we should be gentle with those who are experiencing doubts and we should rescue others who are outside of the faith. Finally, he notes that we should be careful to hate the sins of those we are trying to help
A similar idea appears in Galatians 6:1 where Paul writes that "if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself." Clearly we can see that the same two concepts are presented here as they are in Jude verses 22-23. First, we are called to kindly reach out to those who have wandered away from Christ. Second, we should be careful not to engage in the same bad behavior as the person we are trying to help. In other words, "love the sinner, but hate the sin."
What do you think? Would Jude agree with this modern day phrase? And do you think it holds any practical value for your life today?
(New Living Translation; photo credit: Wix media)