Editor’s Note: This article is a repost from six years ago. May we be reminded of how God loves us and how we are to love others.
There is the wife who loves him, the children who call him their dad, and the parents who raised him in a loving Christian home. There are others, also, such as grandchildren, brothers, sisters, in-laws, friends. All of these people are affected by the terrible sin he committed. They are victims, too.
Their lives have been drastically altered as well. They feel the pain of what he has done and they must deal with the embarrassment, the shame and even the guilt that arise from his despicable actions.
These are they who suffer the collateral damage from the fall of that one who did something so horrible and fell from favor to disgrace. Society has condemned him. His sins have dethroned him. Opportunities are forever shut to him. Sin’s end has come and the destination is far worse than he or they could have ever imagined.
It is at this moment that grace has the opportunity to shine its glorious light for all to see. However, this is not an argument for the offender; nor is it the moment to address the offended. May I instead direct your attention to those who are suffering from the collateral damage?
Before we hurl the stones of slander, raise our voices with vicious venom, and pronounce the condemnation in judgment, could we consider these innocent ones? Could we, perhaps, be more considerate of the wife who did not commit or condone the horrible act of sin her loved one performed? She is at this moment caught between the emotions of anger and hurt and the vows she made many years ago. She loves him in spite of his horrible deeds.
Does he deserve her love? Do any of us really deserve to be loved? She wants to slap him and kiss him all at the same moment. She wants to cry out against his actions yet fall into his arms and hold him. She wants everything to go back to the way it was before. She carries his guilt and shame and feels she will never be able to face people again.
Does she not deserve the dignity of our restraint in condemnation? He is and will continue to pay the price without our making her life more difficult to live. Does she really deserve to spend the rest of her life hiding from the public outcry that we help to fuel?
She goes to bed at night weeping and wondering why everyone hates her husband so. She knows the wrong that he has done and yet she cannot understand how people, even “Christians”, can be so cruel, so filled with hatred.
Then there are the children. Others may deem their father as evil, but he is still their daddy. They are hurting on levels that are impossible for most people to understand. They remember him as the one who tucked them into bed at night and they dreamed of the days when their children could come to know him as they did.
Now that has all been taken away, lost for a long time to come. To some, their daddy will forever be a monster who has no right to be treated with kindness, love or grace. They are paying the price along with him, so why do people want to make it worse? Why do they want him to suffer longer and more severely?
Even people who were not hurt by him cry the loudest for the harshest of pain to be inflicted on him. And with every lash they seek to inflict upon him, they inflict it on his children as well. They can accept the justice for his deeds, but they cringe at the abuse from others vengeful hatred.
When did mankind become so cruel? When did we lose our mercy? When did we want sinners to suffer more rather than wish for them the chance at redemption? When did we forget the grace of God and excuse our forgetfulness on what we think another deserves?
Why not let the judge make his decision? Why do we need to pile on? Why can we not feel their pain and their sorrow and cease demonizing that one who sinned?
They suffer with every word we speak. They cringe at every article calling for him to suffer more. They feel reproached by every condemnation made by another towards their beloved one.
Ah, but there is one other we have not yet mentioned who suffers the collateral damage, not only for the sin of the offender, but for the hatred and condemnation of those who self righteously seek to add to his misery. It is that One in Philippians 2:6-8.
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Yes, it is the collateral damage we bring upon our Lord Jesus Christ. He sits at the throne of His Father not accusing, but interceding, not condemning, but pleading on behalf of. He looks with grief at the way other sinners condemn this sinner and call for judgment rather than mercy. He knows the crime must be punished, but He also knows the He has already been punished for the sin.
He sees a world that hates Him being allowed to freely condemn one of His Own by those who are also His Own. His heart grieves as He hears our callous and careless words of condemnation, even as He does not condemn, for He was condemned that we all might be forgiven.
Yes, collateral damage is a terrible thing. It is terrible when our sins create collateral damage upon the ones we love. It is equally terrible when we pour fuel on the fire and make the damage even worse with our words, both spoken and written.
It seems to me that we ought to be comforting those who have been afflicted, restoring the one who has fallen, and rather than pointing to the sins of the offender, we should be shining the spotlight upon the marvelous grace of our Lord.
If we did that, perhaps the collateral damage could be turned into a wonderful testimony of what God can do when we all let God be God and we his humble servants.
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:30-32).