The world believes we have the right to get angry with someone like Janet Napoles who allegedly stole P10 billion from the people’s money. She has a “pig’s heart,” people would say, and she deserves to “rot in hell”. The world says we have a right to condemn a Mark Joseph Solis who had the nerve to steal someone else’s photograph and win in an international competition, but whose deed was later found out and is now subject to international ridicule and anger. He brought shame to the Philippines as well and we may think it serves him right if he goes to jail for what he did.

The world thinks we have the right to judge and condemn people who are “evil,’ – those whose sins are far greater and weightier than the mistakes of any of us mere mortals. Our earthly conscience tries to comfort us with the fact that we deserve to feel good about ourselves because we know we will never be as “bad” as them. Our sins are “small-time” in comparison to theirs, and for that, we are thankful. Most of us are like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:9-14 who thought he was a lot better than others and said, “‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 

However, God’s Word – the Bible – tells us differently. James 2:10 tells us, “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”

The world’s standard seeks to separate evil into categories:

  1. little, negligible-will-soon-be-forgotten sin
  2. medium, needs-more-time-to-heal sin
  3. gigantic, world-impacting-unforgivable sin

In contrast, God’s Word is the “great equalizer,” for Romans 3:10 says, “As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous–not even one.” In God’s eyes, we are all sinners, no matter how big or small our transgression, “sin” is “sin” and it has separated us from the love of God.

“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” – Isaiah 53:6

Little sinners, medium sinners and big sinners alike are all LOST —  some have wandered just a bit and all they need is a little holler to come back home; some are lost a little farther and would need fetching; while others are completely lost, are in the dark, or at the clutches of an enemy such as a lion or even drowning in the stream and need rescuing.

The truth is, whether we just need a holler, we need fetching or we need rescuing, we are all lost without a shepherd. And it is only by the “Good Shepherd” – Jesus Christ , who gave His life for us on the cross — that we may have peace once again with God.

Remember that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The tax collector in Jesus’ parable went home justified before God because he recognized he is a sinner and sought mercy from God. The Pharisee on the other hand, thought he was already justified (through what he has done) by his proud attitude and thus, his coming to the temple was simply a show of religiosity and not the kind of true faith that leads to God’s saving grace.

And so we read, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18). What does this mean?

It means to be humble enough to recognize, we are all like Janet Napoles and Mark Joseph Solis who are lost and deserves to be damned in hell because we have all sinned. But, God’s grace of salvation is open to them just as it is for us. We are not better than anybody else. We all need Jesus. So, learn to forgive as God forgave.  Ask God to help us love as He has loved us. Let us be ready to show kindness, mercy and grace, especially for those who seem to deserve it the least.

And,

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

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