Everyone needs to know how to deal with other people’s sins. Daily we are affected by them and they cause us many a crisis and much misery. We are never free from the wrongs caused by others, and they are never free from the wrongs caused by us.
Sometimes the sins of others touch us directly. A business partner turns out to be dishonest; your husband is unfaithful; a member of your family becomes an alcoholic. A sister marries a rascal or a neighbor mistreats your child. Sometimes the sins of others touch us indirectly as they affect those we love and for whom we feel responsible.
What shall we do about other people’s sins? What attitude should we take? There are three alternatives.
First, we can ignore them. We can close our eyes to their wrong and pretend it did not happen. We may choose to just endure the wrong. Concerning a wrong we have suffered we often say, “Forget it” when what we really mean is that we will forget the wrongdoer. This is not the way to treat other people’s sins.
Second, we can abhor them. We can detest and despise them. This is the most common reaction. First we feel anger and contempt for them. Then we tell someone else about them. With each new telling, their sins get worse and worse. Clearly, this is not the way to treat other people’s sins.
Finally, we can restore them. This is the Christian way. This is what it means to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting a wrong. This we cannot do. It means restoring the broken bonds. It means not letting the wrong interfere with your relationship.
The best of people slip occasionally. The road of life is covered with banana peelings. When someone does fall, help him up and don’t hold it against him. After all, that’s the way God treats us. What right have we to refuse to others what we expect for ourselves?