We all know folks who’ve made a mess out of their life due to poor, foolish, and even sinful decisions.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that my natural response to these kinds of self-inflicted wounds is seldom one of compassion.  I don’t “feel their pain” as much as I wonder, “What-the-heck-were-they-thinking?”

I addressed this about a month ago when I put a brief note up on my Facebook page and Tweeted the following: My first response toward those who have made a mess out of their life says a lot about how Jesus-like I am. Is it compassion or judgment?

Since then, I’ve continued to mull on the importance of leading with compassion and mercy in the face of pain – even if the pain someone faces is self-inflicted or the direct consequence of their sin.

It all starts with a look in the mirror. You see, I’ve made my own share of foolish and even blatantly sinful decisions. Bet you have too. And sometimes the consequences have been brutal – and painful.

Yet, it’s in the midst of those brutal and painful consequences that God has shown himself to be most compassionate and merciful.

Long before I turned my life over to him, he had already died for me. Long before I came to my senses, admitted the errors of my way, and turned around; he was already pursuing and calling me to himself. While I was dead in my sin, he felt my pain. He had compassion. He offered mercy and a way out, not a “What-the-heck-were-you-thinking?” lecture.

So I wonder why can’t I (and why can’t we) do the same whenever we come across someone suffering the brutal consequences of an arrogant, stupid, or even sinful decision?

It’s not that we have to stop calling a foolish decision, foolish – or sin, sin. It’s simply that if we really want to be more like Jesus then we must learn to lead with Jesus-like compassion, mercy, and a helping hand. And we have to stop leading with Pharisee-like judgment, rolled-eyes, and cold-hearted post-mortems on someone else’s stupidity.

Easier said than done.

But I’m working on it.

How about you?


  1. Gloria on August 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Dear Pastor Larry,
    I had the privelage to sit under your teaching in Oside Calif. young Marine Corp wife struggling with being a new believer, who struggled with many bad choices I made, damaged and wondering, how could this Jesus truly love me with all the things that I had done or had been done to me. I was mixed up in false teaching until someone had invited me to a Ladies Bible Study on the book of Hebrews. It wasn’t long after that, I called Mike Y and said ” I am spiritually sick and need your healthiest growth group when he directed my husband and I to Tom and Nancy group. N.C. Was the first place I ever saw Leaders lead and truly not by word, but by action. Today because of that core group, I lead the way they lead my family. They were truly the Hand and Feet of Jesus. They met financial needs, physical needs, worked out counseling so I could learn to be all Jesus needed me to be today. In 1992 if Jesus would have told me all I would go through then, I would have never signed on. However, do to a fresh start, healthy people, a Pastor like you God was blazing that trail. God has had to humble me through the last five years with heartache and disappointment and lots of loss but it has helped me understand Grace and be able to love out of that brokeness. I’m not perfect, but thanks to real people from N.C. I always wanted to give away what the people of N.C. gave to me. I can never wander to far from scripture and who Jesus is and what He has done for me and my family. I hesitate to always post cause grammar is not my thing.

    • Larry Osborne on August 3, 2012 at 7:48 am

      Thanks Gloria
      It’s stories like yours that make the hard parts of ministry worth it all and more.

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