January 18: “How Do You Respond to Sinners?”

Today’s Bible Reading:

Genesis 37:1-38:30
Matthew 12:22-45
Psalm 16:1-11
Proverbs 3:27-32

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Genesis 38:24 (NLT): “About three months later, Judah was told, ‘Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has acted like a prostitute. And now, because of this, she’s pregnant.’ ‘Bring her out, and let her be burned!’ Judah demanded.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

When those people told Judah that his daughter-in-law “has acted like a prostitute. And now, because of this, she’s pregnant,” I wonder how they said it. The Bible tells us what they said, but we are left to wonder how they spoke those words.

Judging by the fact that they said she had been acting like a prostitute, it sounds like they were being the prosecuting attorney, the judge, and the jury. They may have said those words with disgust. They cared nothing for Tamar. They only desired to see how Judah would respond to such shameless behavior.

Even though the reader knows the backstory, Judah’s words catch us off-guard. “Bring her out, and let her be burned!” That form of death would be torturous. The fact that he would say such a thing leads us to believe that he was also acting like the prosecuting attorney, the judge, and the jury.

But, as I said, the reader knows the backstory. We know whose baby Tamar is carrying. We know that she has Judah’s personal belongings. Even though we acknowledge that Tamar’s actions were wrong, we find delight when she brings out Judah’s possessions and exposes him for the fraud that he is.

Friend, we are sometimes like Judah. We have our own sin problems but refuse to acknowledge them or see how offensive they are to a holy God. Yet, to deflect the guilt we may feel, we throw it onto others and heartlessly condemn them. The words we use that show how little we care about the person we are condemning are actually working to condemn us.

How do we know if we have the heart of Judah? How do we know if we are a Pharisee?

The answer to that question can be answered with some other questions: How do we respond to others in sin? Do we heartlessly stand in judgment of them? Or do we acknowledge the sin while reaching out in humility and love to help them?

A mature Christian is humbled by their own sin struggles. They live with gratitude for the forgiveness that Christ has graciously given to them. They bask in His love for sinners like themselves. 

And, out of the overflow of that relationship, they despise sin but love sinners. They acknowledge sin but reach out to sinners with humility and compassion to help release them from sin’s clutches.

Sure, anyone can get angry at sin and whimsically and harshly condemn sinners as Judah did. But it is a mature believer who loves sinners and seeks to help them as Jesus did.

Who do you want to be like? Judah, or Jesus?

John 8:10-11 (NLT): “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’”

Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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