“…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)
The author of Judges records that everyone did what was right in their own eyes—what a sad commentary! The phrase “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” appears several times throughout the book, including the final words.
But that is not only the commentary on the people of that day—it is the commentary on any generation of people that leaves God out of their lives. Left on our own, our minds are sin-ward not God-ward. Our standards are just that—our standards, not His. We do what is self-centered rather than other-centered. Romans 3:11–18 explains that every part of our lives has been affected by the depravity of our condition. It concludes, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (v. 18).
So how does God want us to respond? Here are several attitudes we should cultivate:
We hate sin but love the sinner. It is the sinful practices we should abhor, not the person. We should call sin what it is, but treat sinners for what they are as well—people loved by God.
We reflect. We should recognize that were it not for the grace of God, we could be the same as them. Left on our own, apart from the grace of God, we are capable of committing any sin. Reflecting on this truth has a way of enhancing the compassion we need to feel toward non-Christians. Were it not for the grace of God, we would be among them!
We pray. Unbelievers need our prayers more than our gossip. Only God can change their condition. We should talk about them to God, not to others.
We address the problem, not the symptoms. The problem is not the particular sins they are involved in or the idols they worship. Individuals not engaged in one sin will practice another. Satan does not care what we worship as long as we do not worship God. Ultimately, it is the fact that they are separated from God that is the problem.
We specialize in Good News. People apart from God need to know about sin and separation from God. But they also need to know that despite their sin, Christ died for them. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves undeserving, rebellious, “do what is right in our own eyes” people. There is no one beyond His reach. He can save a person who engages in petty thievery or one who has been a mass murderer. We ought to ask ourselves, “Am I as zealous to get the good news to them as I am to criticize their sin and evil?” Even more than our criticism, they need our Christ.