My son made a comment today that made me sad. He said “bad guys aren’t worth anything.”
He is 5 years old, speaking from a sheltered world where villains are 2-dimensional characters on a piece of paper and not real human beings with feelings and souls. Either way, I set him straight. No, I don’t want my son personally reaching out to many bad guys right now. Particularly not the comic book villain variety. But I do want him to understand that the grace of God can cover even the worst of “bad guys” and make them a new creation just like that –insert snapped fingers.
Maybe it’s not a perfect explanation of regeneration, but it’s what my 5 year old could understand.
Then I came home and stumbled upon a facebook status posted from a local business establishment where this business owner and commenters basically said the same thing–some people just aren’t worth anything.
The “bad guys” in this case are drug addicts, but it could have been anything. We have lots of “bad guys” and we take pleasure in turning them into 2-dimensional characters without a soul or feelings.
It’s so much easier to judge and hate that way.
We don’t want to see that the drug addict has tried to quit, fallen down in the floor and cried out in desperation begging for something, anything that will help him overcome the darkness that threatens him every single day in the form of addiction. Addiction is a beast. Yes, it starts out as a choice, but it quickly overtakes.
Sin is like that.
Oswald Chambers says it much better than I could, “Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.” (June 17, My Utmost for His Highest)
Created by God
We were handmade by God, every one of us. He made the least of these.
But we deem them not worth anything. We judge them and judge their families (I have a precious dear friend this is happening to right now). We sit up on our “high horse” as my daddy used to say and we look down saying we’d never fall into that. I would never do that. No one in my family would ever do that.
And it really doesn’t matter what “that” is. The point is, we’re better than they are, so we’d never do it.
That’s a lie. Without the grace of God in my life, I am no better and neither is anybody else. I’ve been reading some great devotions about this topic recently in My Utmost for His Highest (you can read it online for free)
“The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly, “Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.” (June 22, My Utmost for His Highest)
Jesus Christ died for the least of these. He died for the vilest sinner. There is no one outside the reach of God’s grace. At the same time, no one is good without Him. No one.
Jesus gave a parable about two men who came to pray.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 8:10-14)
Which one of these men are you? Are you the one who looks around at all the “bad guys” and says “Thank you Lord that I’m so much better than they are?” Or are you the one who recognizes that you are a sinner and that any good in you comes straight from Him?
There are consequences to our actions and choices, of course. I’m not saying there aren’t or shouldn’t be. I’m not saying we should enable anyone in their sins. We shouldn’t endorse sin.
But we should love people enough to directly help them if/when we can, and pray for them fervently when we can’t. We need to recognize that this world has a sin problem, and that we are saved by grace alone.
And we don’t get to decide who’s not worth anything.