Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Gal 6:1 NIV)
In this life a lot goes against this bible verse. Even amongst Christians there is common talk like: That can’t be a Christian if he did this or that sin. Or: How can he speak like that if he is a Christian? Or: She can’t be a Christian as she was linked up there and then. Or: Since he/she has done this, I can’t stand him/her. Etc etc. This strict judgment mostly does not expect any improvement or even insight into wrongdoing and consequently repentance even if love hopes everything and doesn’t give up on anybody. It seems as if it was never written: “Whoever stole, shall steal no more!”, but rather “Whoever sins, is lost!” What do these very fine and illustrious judges say about David, Peter and so many other saints, whose lives don’t follow the sure and peaceful course of a brook in the field, but rather represent a turbulent cascade of some waterfall in the hills, which speeds towards its goal over numerous obstacles and breaches? And this judgmental prejudice is even called “Christian prudence”. Don’t they realize that this is rather hypocritically and vain? O Jesus – friend and companion of sinners – grant us patient forbearance with sinners!
Jesus sinners does receive; Oh, may all this saying ponder Who in sin’s delusions live And from God and heaven wander. Here is hope for all who grieve Jesus sinners does receive.
We deserve but grief and shame, Yet his words, rich grace revealing, Pardon, peace, and life proclaim; Here their ills have perfect healing Who with humble hearts believe Jesus sinners does receive.
Sheep that from the fold did stray Are not by the Lord forsaken; Weary souls who lost their way Are by Christ, the shepherd, taken In his arms that they may live Jesus sinners does receive.
Oh, how blest is it to know, Were as scarlet my transgression, It shall be as white as snow By your blood and bitter passion, For these words I do believe Jesus sinners does receive. (Erdmann Neumeister 1718)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Tuesday after the fifteenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 322 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.