I was scrolling through Twitter when the picture to the left popped up in my feed along with the caption “There is a BIG difference between judging/criticizing and pouring forth the straight testimony. It’s time we be honest and stop hiding behind the “DON”T JUDGE” nonsense." My shoulders slumped and my heart sank. The arrogance of posting such a statement. Why do people post the things they do? Is it a lack of understanding scripture? Of grace? It is hard to understand the whys especially when it is posted by someone you know. In my frustration, I opened my Bible and began searching for answers and what God had to say. The rest of this posting is where my time with Him led.
For all have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.
For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17
My first question while searching became: Where does that kind of attitude come from? Is it a lack of understanding grace? I know it is a word they talk about and are aware of the meaning but it seems that they do not know how to extend or accept it. My search then led me to my journal where I had penned this quote by Chuck Swindoll in which he refers to this kind of attitude as un-Christlike. "Grace killers are notorious for a judgmental attitude. It is perhaps the single most un-Christlike characteristic in evangelical circles today." This led me to the book of Matthew where Jesus referred to them as white washed tombs.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees? Hypocrites! For you are like white washed tombs-beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” Matthew 23:27
I realize that the world out there is full of “Christians” who will judge and criticize those around them. They finger point and gossip all the while ignoring the incredibly large sequoia tree hanging from their own eye (Matt. 7:3-5). I guess what I am learning is simply this; avoid those that would be quick to point out your sin while ignoring their own. Avoid those that have developed alternatives to God's grace. Those who opt for a list of dos and don'ts or leave no room for gray areas or who have developed judgmental attitudes toward those who will not follow their plans or opinions. Why? Because those types of attitudes are un-Christlike.
There is an excellent book written by Max Lucado titled In the Grip of Grace, which touches on this as well. I have read it several times and this particular passage gets me every time.
In Romans 1 Paul confronts the hedonists. In chapter 2 he deals with another group, the judgmental moralists: those who, “pass judgment on someone else” (2:1 NIV). Somewhere between the escort service and the church service there is the person who “points[his] finger at others” (2:1 MSG).
"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” (RSV 2:1)
Who is this person? Is could be anyone (“O man, whoever you are”) who filters God’s grace through his own opinion. Anyone who dilutes God’s mercy with his own prejudice. He is the prodigal son’s elder brother who wouldn’t attend the party (see Luke 15:11-32). He is the ten-hour worker, upset because the one-hour worker got the same wage (see Matt. 20:1-16). He is the fault- finding brother obsessed by his brother’s sins and oblivious to his own.
Max Lucado~ In the Grip of Grace
I love his straightforwardness. He calls it like it is because at one time or another we have all done the same thing. We have all compared our faults, our sins to that of another person. We have all made judgment calls against someone without all the necessary facts. He says,
The easiest way to justify the mistakes in my house is to find worse ones in my neighbor’s house.
The great thing about God is that this scam does not work. Comparing ourselves and withholding grace to another is wrong and we are accountable for our judgmental attitude. Here is what Paul says in Romans 2:2-4 (MSG)
But if you think that leaves you on high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection of your own crimes and misdemeanors. God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all the smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that just because He’s such a nice God he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life change.
When the Holy Spirit lives within us, He touches those tender places in our heart revealing to us our sin when we begin to drift or turn away from God. He leads us to repentance. He also leads the right person to speak “forth the straight testimony.” He sends someone who will speak truth, oftentimes-hard truth but one who will do so with great amounts of love and grace. Someone who understands and has experienced His love and grace. Someone who has left judgement by the wayside and sees themselves just as unworthy of God's grace.
Be wary of those who claim to choose integrity yet live a life that is critical and judgmental. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
They are proclaiming a gospel that leaves little room for the amazing work Christ did upon the cross for everyone!
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.Romans 3:22