The Christian journey is an exciting one but can be extremely challenging.
I find it particularly challenging because with all I know now at this stage of my journey, my heart breaks because I have noted that some of the very people you would look to for support on this journey aka your fellow Christians can be some of the most judgemental people in the world and sadly, they don’t even know it.
They don’t know it because their many echoed “you shoulds” and “you should nots”, all in the name of offering wise counsel or godly chastisement, are often done in harshness steeped in the self righteousness that stems from pride within oneself because they are “lucky” enough not to be struggling with the same sins you might still be struggling with. They are quick to assume that you are struggling because you lack discipline, holiness, a sound prayer life and whatever other Christianese terms they deem appropriate. They don’t know the work God is doing in you to bring you closer to perfection in Him. Praise God!
I’ve found that many Christians are very quick to focus on the sin and not on the person who Jesus died for too. How very different would it be if we took Jesus’ approach to how he dealt with the woman caught in adultery (John chapter 8) that was about to be stoned whereby his first reaction was NOT to ask her to list the different men she had slept with or perhaps discuss with her what her reasons were but INSTEAD he challenged those that brought the charge against her and condemned her that if any of them had never committed a sin in their entire existence, they were free to throw the first stone. He displayed mercy and radical love in this way which has a higher success rate in leading others to repentance.
I won’t front, in my earlier days of figuring this whole Christianity thing out, I was a bit like that. Mainly because I was overcompensating in order to look like the kind of Christian I thought I was supposed to be, by the standards set by other Christians I had observed. Little did I know I was trying to bypass a season of growth God was trying to take me through. I would be so harsh in my condemnation of others (ask my friends, my mouth is SHARP boy!), maybe not so much to their face but definitely in my heart, about them not feeding themselves spiritually enough to have protected themselves from falling into sin whilst using myself as the perfect example of someone who doesn’t struggle with THAT particular sin. No wonder the Bible says “Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation]” (1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 12 AMP).
I didn’t realise how much I was invested in how good a Christian people thought I was rather than focusing on being who God wanted me to be on the inside.
Once I began to understand all this, I resolved to find ways to work on my humility daily and this has helped me maintain a healthy consciousness of my own shortcomings and made me increasingly empathetic towards others that even if I have to give some form of correction or counsel, it’s from a place of “me too!” rather than the usual “you should not”. Christians need not underestimate the power of being relatable alongside love. People can definitely tell when someone is being genuine or if they’re imposing their counsel masked as judgement- no one likes the latter.
Now, imagine if you’re trying to open a jar of olives and you’re really struggling with it for few good minutes, which would you prefer: someone offering to help you open it so you can chow your olives in great joy OR someone telling you how you are weak and that’s why you can’t open the jar and proceed to not even helping you open the jar? Passing judgement on others can sometimes be like telling someone that their weakness is the reason they can’t open the jar whereas you could have just been kind enough to help them open the jar and maybe even share your trick on how you opened the jar, if applicable. It’s probably true that they are weak but brethren, that piece of information is absolutely useless in the situation at hand. It really breaks my heart when Christians point out the flaws of other Christians in an attempt to suggest that they are lesser Christians because of these flaws.
This brings to mind of a couple of quotes I picked up from the sermons of Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, that really hit home for me:
- “Christianity is not an invoice but an inheritance but often, it is presented as an invoice which is what you must do or the price you must pay in order to access all that God has…” and;
- “The gospel is NOT, “You can belong when you become” but rather, “You belong, so you can become“!
The transformation of God’s children is progressive and we all need each other to keep our heads up when the pull of the sinking sand can be oh so strong!
Hear what I’m really saying, please. Are we to just tolerate incessant sin in our midst? Of course not! But if we can see that someone is genuinely struggling yet has a heart that is repentant that no matter how many times he or she may fall on this journey, they always come back to seek God’s help in helping them overcome their temptations, then such a person needs our support and earnest love to help keep them steady on the path of righteousness.
We sadly can’t do much for those who have no regard for God; who don’t even believe anything wrong about their sins and; who remain defiantly unrepentant and without a conscience towards God. We can and should certainlypray for them that they may see the folly of their ways and turn their hearts to God and depending on how righteously burdened you might be about such people, if they insist on staying amongst Christians then it might be worth bringing the knowledge of their ways to a spiritual authority such as a Pastor so that they don’t influence other impressionable Christians around them. It is certainly not for you to waste your energy judging them or trying to “fix” them because you have no such power, frankly speaking.
We must also bear in mind, when dealing with our fellow Christians that Christianity is much less of a requirement-based religion but more of a relationship-based one. It’s not just your relationship with God but also your relationship with others which will flow from the health of your relationship with God. Loving each other is solid proof that we are indeed children of God (John chapter 13 verses 34 to 35). Our love for one another will be the driving factor for encouraging one another in increasingly accessing all that is ours and freely given to us through Christ.
So before you’re tempted judge, dear siblings in Christ, remember that God is working on them too just has He is working on you.
P.s. Shout out to M for inspiring this post 😉