“Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead, That they might enlarge their territory.” (Amos 1:13 NKJV)
Old Testament prophets weren’t known for their “seeker sensitive” messages. In the passage from Kings, Elijah tells the king, “a drought is coming because you’ve failed God.” Amos, came from Judah and preached to the Israelites. His first words might have worried them since he talked about God speaking from Jerusalem, but as he spoke, he might have been Israel’s favorite prophet – at least for a while. He thundered a message of condemnation against Israel’s enemies and laid out their sins. It was a refreshing change of pace from what they’d heard from other prophets who came from Jerusalem. This message started off speaking about the greed of those other nations that was shown in the way they abused people to gain wealth and territory. Amos had the “Amen corner” rocking and rolling.
It’s easy to point out how wrong the other guy is. We may have a beam in our eye, but we can find the speck of sawdust in the other guy’s eye – to paraphrase what Jesus taught. My pastor, when he wants to point out how we as Christians have failed, always (jokingly) says something like “This doesn’t happen in our church, but in other churches…” Fortunately, most people in our church realize what he’s saying. We do like to pass judgments on the sins of others and, sadly, rather than hoping and praying for God to change the situation, we want Him to give it to “those other guys” so that they get what they deserve. We’d rather see God punish the other sinners than forgive them. At the same time, we expect God to forgive our own sins because our sins aren’t as bad as theirs. We ought to be looking for ways to extend God’s grace to others caught in their sin, because the truth is, we all fail God and need grace and forgiveness.
Lord, it’s so easy to find the sins other people commit. It’s even easier to sit back and condemn those sins, especially if my sins are different. Remind me that I sin to, and that even if I think my sins aren’t as bad as their sins, Jesus had to die for my sins also.