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Don't Judge Others Because They Sin Differently Than You

Thursday, November 19, 2015 View Comments Comments (0)

help upThe Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”  Luke 18:11

I have to ask this, “Can you really be humble before God while criticizing others?”  I believe that’s a question I have to ask myself and consider frequently. 

As a disciple of Jesus Christ I really don’t want to be considered a Pharisee and would like to put as much distance between us as possible.  However, no matter how far I seem to run from self-righteousness I always end up bringing the Pharisee with me, that is myself.  The truth is that’s how pride works, the further I try to run from it, without a thorough self-examination, the more it seems to cling to me. 

This troubling scenario seems to occur when I sit down with like-minded friends and start to criticize others or another group? Maybe it’s those who don’t have the same political views I have.  Sometimes it’s those within my vocation that I don’t agree with.  Maybe it’s someone who has fallen in a certain sin that I don’t wrestle with.  And yes, sometimes it’s even another church where in my humble opinion they just don’t seem to get it.  No matter the topic, these conversations usually have two things in common: first, I’ve found a following that parrots my opinion, and second, no one wants to stop and try to understand what’s really going on.  Of course Proverbs 27:17 says we’re to have those iron sharpens iron type conversations, but I’m talking about a conversation where you simply want your own opinion validated.  I’d like to know where the Bible encourages us to have those kind of conversations.

Some people who claim to be Christians actually will say, “You know, I love the Lord. I just don’t love the church.”  Sorry, but that is impossible, because 1 John 5:1 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.”

It is popular today to criticize the church. But understand this: When you insult the church, you are speaking critically of someone whom Jesus loves.  The church is the bride of Christ. We belong to Him, and He loves us. In fact, the apostle Paul used that analogy in Ephesians 5:25-26 when he wrote, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”  Some people claim to be Christians, yet they don’t attend church. But if you are a Christian, then you will long to be with God’s people. 

The other thing that I am repulsed by in our text is how little empathy this Pharisee has for the tax collector.  Has this Pharisee ever tried to collect taxes from people?  The answer is “no” because he has zero in common with “that sinner.”  Truth be known, I often have very little experience with what I criticize. In reality, when I condemn and criticize what I’m actually communicating is that I think I comprehend God better than they do.  That I would never do that because I have a superior handle on the Scripture.

Perhaps in my superior understanding of the Scriptures I have forgotten that Romans 14:5 says,“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” That’s not saying that I’m convinced of my own opinion, but that every Christian will be called to account for his own convictions. Not the convictions of another person or group that I just cut to shreds with my criticism. 

In the rush to confer with our “like-minded” friends and point out the speck in our brother’s eye, we forget the plank in our own.  Since it is so difficult to live consistently with our own convictions, to criticize others is always the preferred method of self-justification. 

What needs to happen is for our faith and our life to intersect.  I still believe the purpose of the church as Ephesians 4:2-16  says is, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 

In my humble opinion in living according to our convictions we should focus our outward attention on how we can love the people around us. As Christ said, the mark of a Christian is not their ability to find fault with other’s beliefs and actions. Instead, he said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). 

david ><({‘>


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