Yesterday, I said that Jesus seemed to be the harshest with people that are self-righteous. So, given this, how should WE act? What is the proper attitude to have toward ourselves and others knowing we are all sinners?
Advice on How to Act Toward Others
I think the best way to answer this question is to examine Jesus’ words. Here’s a good place to start:
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; Matthew 5:44-45 NASB
Right out of the chute, Jesus sets a very high standard. He tells us to LOVE our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. It takes an incredible amount of humility to do this. It starts with the understanding that you are no better. If not for the grace of God, the tables could be turned and you could be the persecutor. Self-righteousness – thinking you are better than everyone else – generally impedes your ability to empathize and therefore hardens your heart toward those that mistreat you.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 NIV
Not only should we love and pray for other sinners, but we also need to forgive them. In fact, this is a prerequisite for our own forgiveness.
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22 NLT
So, are we supposed to count until we forgive someone seventy times seven? No! Jesus is saying we keep forgiving as long as someone needs it, and for some, that could be a long time . A self-righteous heart simply cannot do this.
These verses give us a glimpse into how Jesus wants us to treat people. I think this final statement from Jesus makes clear His position.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:2-3 NIV
This tells us why Jesus reprimands us for self-righteousness. He’s simply using the same measure with us that we use with others.
The Bottom Line on How to Treat Sinners
So, how are we to treat sinners?
It all comes down to the Golden Rule you were taught in grade school, “Treat others like you want to be treated.”
I want to copy Jesus and treat other sinners with grace, compassion and mercy because that’s how I want God to act towards me.