I’ve been thinking…

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John 8:7 The Holy Bible

Thinking seems to be a lost art in the world today. A lot of people have forgotten how to reason situations out to their likely conclusions, or at least that’s how it seems to me.  Folks act, sure enough, but do they think first?  Don’t believe me that this is a problem, look around at our world.  Way more acting than thinking is going on. I think we may be losing our ability to contemplate things.

When was the last time you got away, shut down all electronics and simple thought about the things happening in your life?

One of my favorite people in the world went on a contemplative retreat a couple years back. I had never heard of such a thing. I asked her:  What is that and what will you do there?

Think.

Dream.

Plan.

Seek.

These were the answers she gave.

She would go seeking quiet, and ask God what she ought to be doing with her life.

She would be quiet and think.

She would be quiet and listen.

She would be quiet and hear from Him.

She would be quiet, and in quietness and confidence in God she would find what she was looking for, she was sure.

I loved the idea, but was it practical?

I was a skeptic.

Since then, I have many times wished I could go on a contemplative retreat. How I long to get away, shut down the din of society, seek God alone, be silent, and listen for His directives.

Or at least I think I would love it; I’ve never tried it yet.  Too busy.

I’ve been thinking about the saying, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” What does it mean?  I know what it means to others, I think, but what to me?

As far as I can understand, “love the sinner, but hate his sin” (another variation on the same theme), is a misquoted explanation by another of what originated with Augustine. He said: “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum”, which I am told translates roughly to “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” His Letter 211 (St. Augustine) (c. 424)

THAT, I get!

Loving mankind but hating sin is about living my life in such a way that I have love for others who may be doing wrong, but that I  do my utmost to make sure I do right!!!  It’s about personal responsibility and regulating no one but me.  The other one, to my way of thinking, invites a judgmental attitude, but not this. With Augustine’s directive, I’m focused in the arena where I have some power for change: me.  The other dares me to dissect my fellows to find out where they are missing the mark, and then turn a blind eye on their bad behavior in the hope that it will help me love them better.  Hmmm…

I really, really need to think on this some more.  I think I need to take a contemplative retreat during 2015.

What do you think, are we encouraged by “hate the sin, but love the sinner” to focus too much attention on sin and not enough on love? As a parent, when do you step in to correct bad behavior, and do so because you love your child?

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