What we should do with sinners
When it is time for me to punish,
I will punish them for their sin.
One may see this statement in a somewhat different light, however, if one reads verses 25-29 of this chapter (left out of today’s selection). In these verses, Moses rallies to himself the faithful remnant of Levites and orders them in the Lord’s name to slaughter their apostatizing relatives, friends and neighbors.
Something of a parallel was heard in the parable spoke by our Lord in last Saturday’s Gospel (Matthew 13:24-30):
The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit,
the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I wi
ll say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.””
The Lord’s servants are sometimes a bit quick in wanting to purge evil doers, but the Lord is inclined to be patient.
On the one hand, this is frustrating for some who cannot abide the presence of sinners or others who do not hold to the true faith. There is reason to be concerned: sin subverts the right order and sinners can have a similar effect.
But the justice of man is not the justice of God, for man is a sinner: that includes you and me.
Thus God’s patience is extended not only for the sake of THOSE sinners we despise and fear, but indeed his patience and mercy extends to us as well.
May we be clear about what is right and what is wrong, may we proclaim the truth about God and his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and may we place ourselves and our erring fellows in the merciful hands of God.