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THEY CAN HAVE MY SHIRT, NOT MY SOUL
By Bryan Matthew Dockens

I would give the shirt off my back to clothe a freezing sinner, the food off my plate to feed a starving sinner, the blood from my veins to a sinner in need of a transfusion, my spare kidney to a sinner in need of a transplant, and my very life to protect a sinner from mortal danger, but I refuse to give my soul to justify a sinner's misdeeds in the sight of God.

John the Baptist preached, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise" (Luke 3:11). Food or clothing - if I have it, I'll give it to those in need.

As Christ taught in the case of the Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the recipient of my benevolence need not be a friend or brother. If I can help, I must. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil" (Luke 6:30-35).

My life itself is not so precious that it should be withheld from one who could be saved by my death. Jesus set the example. "Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

It isn't often, though, that a sinner asks for my food or shirt, or my blood or kidney. More commonly, sinners want approval. Yet, that is the one thing I must not give. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:11), said Paul. The apostle wrote of "ungodliness" and "unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18), including idolatry (22-25), homosexuality (26-27), murder and gossip (29), violence and insubordination (30), among a host of other wicked deeds (31), and condemned those who "approve of those who practice them" (32). It is sin to approve sin! The prophet said, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20). I refuse to jeopardize my own salvation to make a sinner feel good about himself.

Rather than condone the bad behavior of the worldly, my duty is to help them quit the sin! "And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 22-23). The single most loving thing to do for a sinner, above all else, is to win his soul to Christ, sparing the sinner from the eternal consequences of his actions. "He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20).

"Tolerance" is the theme of this generation, and all who disapprove sinful behavior are branded hateful "bigots". There is nothing hateful, though, about giving of myself to help those in need while withholding approval of their wicked deeds. Telling a sinner he's wrong is not bigotry, but love for his soul.

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