Redemptive is an adjective that describes actions designed to save someone from evil, error, and harm. It’s a good word.
When know a guy who went to jail because of his drug habit, you can look at him and say, “It’s a shame that you messed up so bad.” You would be telling the truth, but you wouldn’t be redemptive.
When you know of a girl who got pregnant in high school, you could call it illegitimate and refuse to help out at her shower. You’d be making a valid point. You’d be clear that you’re against sexual promiscuity. You wouldn’t be redemptive.
You can forward every email about all the broken promises of politicians, the scandals of D.C., and the failures of government. You can tell people that you voted the other way. You can say, “I told you so!” to all of your friends who voted wrong. And you might be right, but you wouldn’t be redemptive.
Scripture says that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world.” (John 3:17). He didn’t have to condemn us; we already were condemned. He could have, though. And he would have been right. But God is not just interested in being right—he is interested in redeeming. That’s why the verse continues, “…but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Redeeming mankind is the theme of the Bible. From our fall in the Garden to our celebration in New Jerusalem, God has been acting to redeem us. God redeemed Joseph from the pit and the prison. He redeemed Jonah from the fish. He redeemed Israel from Egypt and Judah from Babylon. When Jesus came, he came to set us free forever (John 8:35-38).
So here’s the question: are your actions redemptive? Do you use your influence to make a difference to those around you? As followers of the Redeemer we ought to be righteous and redemptive. We are people who help show what it looks like when the Kingdom of God reigns.