Bible Like a Hammer
Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had this temptation to use the Bible against those around me. I grew up in church and I have a father who is still a pastor, but my parents didn’t teach me this. It just came naturally. As I learned there was a right and a wrong, I used that knowledge to be critical of others, instead of myself. Maybe I thought I was doing God’s will, or maybe it simply made me feel superior. Whatever the motivation, I’ve always had this part of me that’s been arrogant, judgmental, and condescending and I’ve always been tempted to use my Bible like a hammer with which I strike others. You’re a sinner and I’m better than you.
The problem of course, is that this might be the most unchristian thing I do. I’ve got my own failures and pointing out the failures of others is just a way to avoid my own. Even in my drug addiction, if I could find someone who was worse off than me, I could ignore my own disaster.
Paul must have encountered something similar in the Corinthian church. In the verses just prior to today’s passage, he chastised them for defrauding one another. Now, in today’s passage, he listed several other behaviors which would also prevent them from inheriting God’s kingdom. This wasn’t a list for them to use as a hammer on others. This was a list for them.
The temptation for us, as Christians, is the same as it was the Corinthians. In the previous chapter, Paul told them that they weren’t the judges of the world, but they were responsible for judging themselves. Unfortunately, they got it all backwards, tolerating an inappropriate sexual relationship in their midst, while remaining critical of those outside the church.
I often do the same. Even though I’ve been guilty of several things on Paul’s list of sins, I’ve still used this passage, picking out the things I don’t struggle with and using those as a hammer to strike others. You’re a sinner. In tolerating and justifying my own sins however, I’m in no condition to be filled with God’s kingdom myself.
I don’t think I’m alone here. This is a common temptation for Christians. As followers of Christ, the world is supposed to know us by our love, but instead, they often know us for our hate, judgment, and for using our Bible like a hammer.