It seems that lately the news is filled with horrendous crime stories and the detailed exploits of serial killers, and they remind us just how far humanity has drifted from God. Some of these crimes are so heinous that our stomachs churn just thinking about them. But when the offender is caught and justice is served, even Christians tend to accept that this person now has what he or she deserves and they can rot in Hell for their actions.
But is that a Godly attitude? Is that how Jesus looks at sinners?
The Bible says that “we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God“…(Romans 3:23) and that “Jesus died for our sins …(1 Cor:15:3)
What is sin? It’s rebellion against God and God’s commandments. So, what is worse – stealing something small and insignificant from work or embezzling company money? Stealing one cookie from the cookie jar or robbing the entire store? One of things that people want to do is “assume” that God has separated small sins from big sins and overlooks the small ones. But He’s laid it out very clear in the Bible - DO NOT STEAL.
And if we were totally honest, we would all admit that every day we sin and need to repent for something. Did we play a game on the company computer for a few minutes or send a personal email to someone? If we did, then we stole time because we were paid to work during that time. Did we include every single financial detail on our income tax or did we think that it was okay to leave out some things because we need the money more than the government? If we did, then we stole money that wasn’t ours. Did our thoughts wander off into an area where we shouldn’t be thinking? Then we stole glory from God and let the devil overtake our minds, if for even just that minute.
We don’t relate our simple actions to those who commit really big crimes because we feel that we aren’t that bad…..just like the Pharisee who prayed loudly and thanked God that he wasn’t like the humble sinner next to him.
When we realize that sin is wrong no matter how great it is, we can easily repent and ask God to help us change. But there are many people who either don’t know God or have let the enemy in to take over their minds and it’s not easy for them. Some criminals come to the realization of their sin while serving their sentence, and God forgives them even though the world doesn’t.
It’s very normal for people to pour their compassion and prayers on to the victims - and as Christians we need to do that. But God also tells us to pray for our enemies and that means opening our hearts of compassion to the sinner – to the criminal – as well, and praying for their salvation. Why? Because if that person were not oppressed with the devil and if his or her mind was not overtaken with evil, they would never have even thought about doing any evil to anyone.
We need to look at each person as an individual, as someone who needs prayer and God’s help. We need to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Prayer changes everything. It sets people free. Every person on the earth deserves to be free and deserves the chance to repent no matter what they’ve done. Their acts may have been despicable and people may even have suffered and died because of them, but IF these people had known God and IF they had been filled with the Spirit of God instead of the devil’s, they would not have done these crimes. The devil truly made them do it, and as Christians we need to pray for people – not just for the ones we love, but for those who come against us.
Not everyone we pray for will receive God, but everyone we pray for will be given the opportunity to repent and know Him.
“And when you stand praying, forgive if you have ought against any, that your Father also, which is in Heaven, may forgive you your trespasses.” …Mark 11:25