Everyone’s life preaches a sermon. What will yours be? Will your message to the world be: here are some sins that I don’t do, but other people do, and I think they’re really bad sins.”? Or will it be: “God loves his lost sheep, and he leaves the ninety-nine that are found, to seek after His one beloved lost wayward sheep”?
Make no mistake, God will hold you accountable for what you communicate as much as what you say. If you quote scripture, but do it in such a way that communicates judgment, hatred, or bondage… trust me, that’s not a loophole or get-out-of-jail-free card.
What you say counts, and how you say it counts just as much. To the extent it depends on us, we will be held responsible for communicating love, and setting the captives free, not condemning them for being in their bondage.
Luke 11:46 “Jesus said, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.’”
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
As Jesus points out, to quote scripture and weigh people down with the burden of following it is not enough. We need to be able to help people live it out. Jesus goes on to make it clear, some of these things in scripture are primary, ultra-important, and absolutely vital for us to focus on, and other verses are for basic, everyday living.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23
Scripture has a number of these moments, where it sums up those elements that are most important, those spiritual principles from which all righteous actions flow.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Bottom line: the Bible says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17). If the people don’t feel set free from their bondage, you ain’t sayin’ it right.
And if it means anything to you, I’ve ministered to inmates for nearly a quarter century now. I’ve met people who have committed crimes beyond your wildest imagination. And I’ve seen more positive spiritual change in those jail cells (and on the streets afterwards) than I’ve ever seen in any church.
It never occurred to me to call them sinners, or condemn their sins. I just loved them, without judgment, and preached the Good News. They liked hearing it, I liked telling it, and change took place. Simple.
Set them free.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. — Luke 4:18-19