A common conversation among Christians and non-Christians alike begins with, “Did you hear about so and so?“. We view this as a perfectly normal conversation. When someone we know sins in some way, we often feel compelled to tell people and to offer our opinion; whether it be a fellow member of our church, someone in church leadership or a famous preacher. We don’t view this as gossip, but as making people aware of something, that we view as sinful.
When we criticise others, we open ourselves up to criticism.
But as Christians we should not be talking like those in the world – we are supposed to be different. We are supposed to be known for the love that is among us. We are not supposed to be known for pointing out each other’s faults. When we look at the Bible, we find that God has some very stern words to say about this sort of thing. The J.B. Phillips translation of Matthew 7:1-2 says, “Don’t criticise people, and you will not be criticised. For you will be judged by the way you criticise others, and the measure you give will be the measure you receive”. Criticism is often common among Christians, but it shouldn’t be. Jesus said that when we criticise others, we open ourselves up to criticism. When we make statements like, “I would never do…..“, we are giving Satan the permission to test us in that area. We must think before we open our mouths – we do not need to be giving Satan these sort of opportunities.
Wouldn’t it be great, if people thought the best of us?
Staying with the J.B.Phillips translation, Jesus said in Luke 6:37, “Don’t judge other people and you will not be judged yourselves. Don’t condemn and you will not be condemned. Make allowances for others and people will make allowances for you“. So often when we make a mistake, we try to offer reasons why it happened. On the other hand, if someone else makes a mistake, we are quick to pass judgement. Let’s heed Jesus’ words and make allowances for other people, let’s look for the best and not the worst. After all, isn’t that how we would want to be treated? 1 Corinthians 13:7 in the Amplified Bible says, “Love……is ever ready to believe the best of every person“. Wouldn’t it be great, if people thought the best of us, rather than assuming the worst? Well, the way for that to happen is for us to start believing the best of others. That’s not to say that we ignore sin; we may be in a position where that sin needs to be dealt with and if so, we should do whatever we need to do. But it is not our place to judge others and it is certainly not our place to tell everyone what has happened.
Let’s deal with the things that need to be put right in our own lives.
So often we have fallen into the trap of applying a different standard to others, than we do to ourselves. Jesus warned against this in Matthew 7:5, “You are a hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to get the dust out of your friend’s eye” (Easy to Read Version). Let’s deal with the things that need to be put right in our own lives, rather than always looking for things to correct in others. Jesus made another statement in John 8:7, which takes away any right we think we may have, to point out and criticise the sins of others. He said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her“. Then, even though Jesus was without sin and had every right to condemn the woman, He said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee“. If that was the end of what Jesus said, you could think that Jesus was condoning the woman’s sin. But He didn’t stop there, He added, “Go, and sin no more“. We are certainly not to condone sin, if we need to point someone’s sin out to them (to them, not to anyone who will listen), we should do so. But we should do so in an attitude of love, rather than an attitude of condemnation.
Is God not able to bless people through channels other than the church offering basket?
I recently saw a post on Facebook, criticising megachurch Pastors who have big houses. The common view seems to be that the money must be coming from the offerings, in a dishonest manner. But do you know that for a fact? Is God not able to bless people through channels other than the church offering basket, or can people not give because they are led by the Holy Spirit and not because of being manipulated? Romans 14:4 warns against passing judgement on ministers in this way, “They are God’s servants, not yours. They are responsible to him, not to you. Let him tell them whether they are right or wrong” (The Living Bible). If we are against God’s ministers having nice things, it is unlikely that we will ever progress beyond the average, beyond the mundane. It means that God cannot bless you with a big house, or a nice car, or whatever it is. You may think “I don’t even want those things“, but you cannot even reach anywhere near your potential as a Christian if you are constantly criticising others – especially other Christians. The good news is that you can of course repent, and God will always forgive you.
It is time that we wised up to the devil’s tactics.
This is an area where Satan has been very successful at attacking the church. You do not have to look far on the internet, to find web sites where one Christian is attacking another Christian for reasons which they see as completely justified – but it is not justified. As we have seen above, it is completely wrong and it is time that we wised up to the devil’s tactics. So let’s determine to remove criticism, judgement and condemnation of others from our own lives. It may not be easy, but if we want to live lives that are pleasing to God, then we need to make a start. Let me encourage you, this may seem like an impossible task, but the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Not most things, not some things, ALL things!
I will end with something I recently read, “Satan will tempt you to judge other people. Forgiving is the opposite of judging. If you forgive, you don’t judge. If you judge, you don’t forgive“.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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