Dr. Anderson, and my dog Shiloh (I will leave my self out of this--I plead youthful insanity) represent the mindsets and attitudes of a lot of Christians. Perhaps my dog was an innocent bystander, and Dr. Anderson was just having some fun. But when we, as His representatives, pretend with the faith of Christ, it causes disease and destruction to the Church and to those who need the Church! It shoos people away, and they will not come back. What we end up doing is destroying relationships, present and potential, all in the name of placing our Will and political agenda ahead of God's Will and precepts. These are the so-called Christians who say one thing and do another, and/or sit in judgment of others while they themselves have too many sin issues to count. These are the Christians who go to church, play the Christian game, but experience no real or life-changing event where Christ becomes Lord of their lives. They still are in control of their Will and regard their Will as upfront and supreme. These actions create judgmental attitudes and hypocrisy residue upon others. The sad part is that these are the Christians most secular people have in mind when someone says "Christian!" Their "diploma" stating they are a Christian might as well come form that same "diploma mill" where Shiloh received his degree. They may look like Christians, but their fruits are clearly from ways other than those of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Consider this. Would you rather have "Dr. Anderson" do open heart surgery on you, or trust it to a real, board certified physician? Who would you rather have running your church--fakes who are pious, frauds, and hypocrites, whose agendas supersede Biblical precepts, or those who are devoted to the things of God? What about you? What is conveyed from your personhood to others around you? Are you false, or are you real? Do you present good fruit, or phony, rotten fruit? Which will build effective relationships--the false or the real? Which will allow relations to grow and last--false or real? I believe the answer is clear! Phony lives create judgmental attitudes because people see in others what they do not have, so they feel a need to put others down. Or, they see what they feel others should be, as in "like themselves," and experience the urge to put them down. Either way, the judge is corrupt and the measuring rod is not of God.
Hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes cause some of the biggest problems in the Church, and spill over to others outside her walls whose concept of a Church is what they observe. These attitudes also cause severe danger to the growth and comfort of the Church. Comfort is in a place to call home, to feel safe, and be willing to be taught and led, and to serve. This is one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, that keeps people away! Effective spiritual growth, maturity, and outreach cannot happen when the Church is pierced with bad attitudes, all stemming from a poor spiritual condition and the inability to build effective relationships.
Romans 1:18-32 gives us a laundry list of sins that will destroy any relationship or church. This chapter already tells us that God's ordinances are written in our hearts and in creation; thus, we have no excuse to reject Him, even if the Gospel is never told to us! The heathens already know, yet they choose to subdue themselves from God's most precious love and grace. This implies that God's dictates are written in our conscience, from how to know Him to how to conduct our lives. So, as a Christian, we really do have no excuse! At the same time, we have to be careful. If you are not a Christian, your conscience will not be reliable, as your Will forces and overpowers its way noisily over God's righteousness unless you listen carefully. In addition, your conscience, your sense of right and wrong, is like a computer. God installs its operating system. Yet, you can still send in corrupt programming and get corrupt thinking. Only the Spirit, prayer, and the Word will install good programming. Garbage in will equal garbage out! Thus, a struggle will assume to seek hypocrisy or righteousness.
When I speak on this subject, many people say to me, "This must just be the new Christians doing this." But my research and experience indicate, no, it is the ones who grew up in the Church who do the most destruction to the Church. Christians who grew up in good Christian value homes can easily forget who they are in Christ and act quite contradictory to His call and plan. If we grew up in a Christian home, attended church all of our lives, and even went to a Christian school, then we lived most of our lives in the Christian sub-culture. Now, there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is we can get in the habit of playing the role of the Christian so that we do not take deeper ownership of our faith, thus resulting in mixed messages that we portray to those around us. Therefore, how we should be does not equal our actions or words. Or, we fake it to fit in, and become pretentious and condescending.
Hypocrisy in Action
We can help prevent this from occurring by looking at hypocrisy and applying what Jesus taught about it in Matthew 23. The word for hypocrisy in verse 28, as it originally meant in Greek culture, was to act out a part in a play--to be an actor. And, that is just what we do when our actions are contrary to our call. Jesus warns us of the danger of pretending, of just going through the motions of being a Christian, without earnestly living our lives as a Christian is meant to do. We must realize the danger in living a double life. If we are all friendly and loving at church, genuinely seeking after others with encouragement and care, then on Monday we go to school or work with a contemptuous and condescending attitude toward our friends and coworkers, then what are we doing? What are we expecting people to think when we live a double life or portray a secret agent Christian? Are you putting on a performance, or are you genuinely focused on the Lordship of Christ, so that His fullness flows to those around you?
Why is this so important? When you ask someone, "Would you like to be a Christian?" what you are in fact saying is, would you like to be like me? So, we must be careful in our daily actions, words, and deeds, because we are telling others about the Lord through all those. How we come across to others is important as well. Character and personality are critical! Remember, Jesus warns us about misleading people. What would you think if you went to buy a car and the salesmen told you it had 300 horsepower, would withstand an impact at 50 mph, get 40 mpg, and be cheap to insure? You would probably say, "Wow!" and buy it, then have trouble making it up the hill by your house. Then, what if someone rear-ends you, you get whiplash, and $5,000 in damage from a 5 mph impact, and you find out the insurance is over twice as much as your previous car? You would not be a very happy camper! You would realize you were manipulated and lied to! Perhaps you would be outraged! The salesman created a false impression of the car. How long would that salesman or car dealer say in business? Customers would stay away, and media watchdogs would attack. The same applies to us as representatives of Christ. How do you think the Lord feels when we are out in the world misrepresenting Him?
When we judge others, we are harboring two contradictory attitudes and thoughts, while we are in fact lying to and about our Lord. What does our Lord have to say about this? Judge not, that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1). In Romans, chapter two, we find that when we judge others, and disobey God, we are inexcusable, and will not escape the judgment of God. The measure of God's dealings with Jews and Gentiles will be the same, as there is no difference in ethnicity. It is what is in the heart, not the skin that matters to God, even in the O.T.! Remember, all will appear on the Day of Judgment. Being judgmental will not work; it will only backfire on you, and show that external works will not gain anything without a renewed heart through Grace. God looks at the trust in His work, not the comfort of our work. The Jews in the time of Paul and Jesus felt they where outside of God's wrath and judgment, just as some Christians feel today. These are the ones who take comfort in their church membership and not who they are in Christ.
The flipside is that the saying Judge not, that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1) is also a popular phrase in Western society. It is often spoken when someone is pointing out the faults of another, or if one feels someone else is judging him. The secular impression is that we should never make moral judgments on others. However, that is not what Jesus implied when He spoke on judging. We are to judge what is right and wrong in some things, such as sin versus virtue (James 4:11-12). There are times when we are called to judge as we exercise church discipline--correcting one who teaches in error (1 Timothy 1:3-11; 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:3-5; Titus 1:9; 2:1). If he/she does not heed the correcting, he/she must step down. Church leaders are called to exercise discerning judgment as to the moral or spiritual condition of the people under their care. This is always done in the character of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
There are different types of judgment. One involves being discerning, not allowing harm to come to you or others from those who cause harm. And, along with that, comes sensitivity to potential trouble, attempting to prevent the bad actions of others. This is a service, which, ideally, the church, as well as law enforcement and community involvement, is supposed to do. There is also the judgment/discernment of evaluating the spiritual and mental health of others. The other types are the cruel manipulations and putdowns that many of us do! What Jesus is referring to in Matthew, chapter seven, is condemning the faults in others to cover up our own faults--especially the ones we refuse to see in ourselves. He also is condemning the practice of verbally attacking others, which will only bring condemnation on us. The imagery that Jesus uses is the market place measuring scale. When we judge, our false, hypocritical, and self-righteous attitude is put on the scales, and counts against us, calling down God's judgment on us (Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 5:7; 6:14-15; 7:1-6).
The best way to cover your own sins and wrongdoings is to attack someone who is good and righteous, because it will throw the dogs off your tracks, taking the attention off you and placing it elsewhere. I cannot tell you how many times as a pastor I have seen this happen, as misguided arrogant people take down good people because they do not want to be convicted. Why does this work so well? Because righteous people will not defend themselves, as he/she is rooted in Christ, and not in the world. It is in the same way our Lord did not defend Himself. The other leading way to attack someone is to judge him/her! It is characteristic of our fallen, human, sinful nature to see the faults in others, but, more often than not, the very faults we point out in others are the ones we have! This is what Jesus refers to as the speck and plank in the eye! He is telling us that we may need eye surgery (Matthew 7:1-6). In the Greek, it is a word play, using hyperbole speech-exaggeration for emphasis that is both shocking and humorous. It means we must correct our own faults by removing the beam from our own eye; then we will able to see, discern, and help others who are not dealing with their faults (Galatians 6:1-2).
God does not care about our pedigree, or who grew up in the church, or who is new. He is telling us that no one is immune! It is ONLY by what Christ has done that we can be saved. This transpires to how we treat others. Even when we are saved, we cannot say it is by what we have done. This transpires to how we judge, because we have no basis to do so. The Roman church was a mix of Jews and Gentiles, thus disagreements and prejudice arose and Paul had to address them (Psalm 18:25-26; 62:12; Matthew 7:1-2). So, if you judge, all you do is end up judging yourself!
When we have the knowledge and trust of God's goodness, and His right of judgment, we will refuse to be hypocritical. We will use His goodness as a guide to see the sorrow for our "miss-actions" and have compassion toward others for theirs (Psalm 136). As God is generous with His grace, so we should be generous toward each other and be thankful. And, finally, as we see His goodness in a much deeper way, we are truly transformed, renewed, and we turn away from sin (Romans 12:1-3). When we refuse to see His goodness, and keep judging, we model the ultimate contempt to our loving Lord!
Remember, we will also be judged by the ultimate Judge! He will judge us according to the opportunities He brings and knowledge we have. The more you know, the more responsibility you have to put it to use! That is why Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land; he disobeyed God in what we might see as a minor matter. God saw the matter as not important, because Moses knew better! Thus, the offence of striking the rock was bad enough for him to be excluded from entering the Promised Land because, of all the people who ever lived, Moses knew better. Moses had been face to face with God and knew his duty and call. His anger broke the trust he had with God, resulting in grave consequences. God did show Moses some grace and allowed him to see what was to come. Fortunately for us, we have grace to further protect us (Exodus17: 6; Numbers 20:8-11)! But grace is no excuse to do as you please!
Hey, I do not Judge!
If you are thinking, "Hey, I am safe so far. I do not judge. I am not a hypocrite." But, what about what motivates you? God will not just judge our actions, but also our motivations! He knows the truth about each of us; there is nothing new to God. He alone has pure intentions, pure, uncorrupted love, mercy, and omniscience knowledge. He knows all things, and how everything and everyone is intertwined relationally in the past, present, and future. We have no such knowledge. We see a small piece of bark from a single tree, while He sees the entire forest. Thus, we cannot judge simply because of our blind imprudence.
What about how you value others? In Western culture it is customary to consider yourself as number one! But, Biblically, we are number two. God is number One, and others are to be put above us as well, to a point. So, do you value others in the same way you do yourself? Is the scale balanced? Do you cover up your frailties by attacking and criticizing others to throw the dogs off your scent (Matthew 7:1-5; 21-23; 25:31-33; John 5:22)? When we are focused on seeing the corruption and deceit in others, it is because we are filled with it ourselves, and we do not take the Word of God seriously. What if God judged us as we do others? The answer again is, do not judge, and do not be hypocritical! Yet, Christians can be the some of most critical and arrogant people on earth! We must come to the place where we let God remove our pride! Remember, God searches our hearts. What will He find in yours?
· Hypocritical conduct comes from our fallen nature, as demonstrated by our history, actions, interpersonal relationships, by divorce court, and testimonies of behavioral scientists. Christians do not seem to be immune from this infection!
· Hypocritical conduct causes us to behave in one way, while desiring or even believing we are acting in a total different way. It may be intentional or it may be just a slip of the tongue. However, it is all the same to the hearer of the words--damaging, destructive, awful, addictive, and most of all, devoid of Christian love!
· God is more concerned with our obedience than our knowledge!
· Are you grateful for what Christ has done or do you take it for granted (Luke 15:17-19)?
· To be self-centered is to find the wrath of God!
· Do you practice what you preach, that is, do you condemn others for what you do in secret?
· No one needs or likes a Hypocrite!
· It is as impossible to be a Christian hypocrite, as it is impossible to be half pregnant. Either you are, or you are not. Your fruit will show your true colors!
· Everyone should know better than to sin. So, why do we?!
· Being, and living, as an honest Christian should just be a natural endeavor. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit. We know the Scriptures. Therefore, there should be no problems with honest living, yet there is!
· Our behavior causes a contradictory witness. We may desire to earnestly live a life of Christian maturity, but, instead, we drive people away from the Lord! We end up doing the opposite of Christian living!
· The opposite of godlessness is godliness. This is the act of honoring God with our best. Godliness enables us to live out our faith in obedience, with love, and trust in Christ.
· Remember, it takes a diamond to cut another diamond, so allow other Christians to hone and challenge you, but never let anyone sway you from what is clearly revealed in Scripture! Count your afflictions as joy and service to Him, as long as you are true to Christ and His Word.
Being judgmental is extremely foolish, because you are, in fact, throwing a boomerang of condemnation that comes back to hit you harder than you threw it. God judges according to truth; we judge according to greed and misunderstanding.
Remove the plank!
When Jesus tells us, simply put, DO NOT JUDGE, He means we are not to be critical or use ourselves as a measuring stick to which we compare everyone else! A Christian who is critical and condescending is a terribly destructive force to the Kingdom of God, as he/she exhibits the direct opposite behavior of what a Christian should be. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to give a critique, and He will work with you way before using you to work with someone else! Every wrong thought you may observe in others already exists in you, and if you are unwilling to deal with it, while pointing it out in others, you are, as Proverbs so eloquently puts it, A FOOL! The chief characteristic of a Christian should be humility! Remember, if God judged you correctly and righteously, you would go straight to Hell, as you deserve neither Grace, nor His love. But, because of His Grace, you have heaven-and Him--for eternity!
So remove the plank! Eye surgery in Jesus time was not a really good idea, they would cut an incision onto the eye and drain the fluid to help, but all this did was make the situation much worse. And so it is when we judge wrongly! It is wrong for anyone to focus their attention on the speck in his brother's eye, while his/her own eye is occupied with the same, or another fault (Psalm 18:25-26; Romans 2:1)! Why does Jesus hate this so much? When we judge by attacking others, or by putting them down, we are refusing to forgive (Mathew 6:14-15)! If you are unwilling to see the faults in yourself and be in the process of resolving them, then you have no right to help others by critiquing them! If you think you have no faults, you are deluding yourself, and lying to God and others (Romans 2:17-24). We have to be humble and accept correction to be used by God (Proverbs 15:31).
We need to realize our sinful nature and how much Christ forgave us, less, for with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:1-2). The implication is that we will be judged by the same standards we use to judge others! There is just no need or reason to do this. It only harms others, makes the Church look bad, and identifies the person who judges as a FOOL! Why would a Christian desire to do this when they have received Christ's grace? It can boggle the mind!
So, we must be aware of the bad judgmental attitudes that have consumed the Church since it's founding. Let God be the judge! He is God and knows the true motivation and circumstances of people, which we do not have access to. Thus, He will judge with the right amount of vengeance. Our vengeance is insignificant, unnecessary, and unlawful before God! Just consider how severe the penalty for false judgments were in the O.T. (Exodus 23:6-8; Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 18:19-21). Let God be God, not you!
Why we Judge
Why do Christians display contradictory actions? Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance. This is when a person harbors two completely different views. While acting on one behavior, they believe they are doing something quite different. This can be caused by a stressful situation, by being uncomfortable, or by being unable to modify one's beliefs to fit a situation. So, we develop rationalizations, believing we must be right in our actions because our beliefs are right, regardless of our actions.
Are all hypocrites people who are not real Christians and are just pretending like Dr. Anderson? Not necessarily. Most Christians who judge have a skewed sense of Biblical precepts. They have not yet discovered who they are in Christ. They elevate their desires, goals, and aspirations over those of anyone else, even the Lord. Perhaps they are saved, but the reality of the faith has not set in them. These immature Christians will not allow themselves to be convicted or grow in the faith. They depend on their works and ideas, not on their faith and the reality of Christ. Thus, they rationalize or theologize their way through life, making all kinds of excuses for demanding their own Will and way.
Another reason Christians judge is because there are so many various visions for our lives and Will, so they are volleying for power. The focus tends to be away from God's Will in most churches and Christian's lives. Thus, when you do take a stand, even though it is Biblical and true, Christians will persecute you more than heathens will! Look at church history for this evidence. Because a lot of Christians fear change and conviction more than anything else, they do not want to see their hypocrisy, or move beyond their comfort zone, so they attack to preserve what they perceive as theirs. Jesus said for us to remove the plank from our own eye first. They do not want to remove it, because that plank is their source of comfort and rationale for all they do.
Sometimes Christians just have not adjusted to their new life and are still carrying the values from their old life. The Roman Christians had a tough time adjusting to the new life in Christ, as they wrestled with Jewish law and tradition over the alien concepts of freedom and Grace. They were not willing to act by faith and trust in Christ, just as most Christians today are not! It takes time to be discipled, and to adjust to our new life. Faith is given to us overnight, but we still have to receive, process, and act on it. We tend to create our own bureaucratic obstacles, and then blame God and others. Paul is calling us to be patient and to understand one another. When we do, life goes much more smoothly, and issues are not taken so personally.
The Pharisees were experts on seeing hypocrisy in others, but they failed to see it in themselves. They could look down the corridor of time and see all the errors and mistakes their ancestors made in the past, yet look at themselves as more accomplished, and incapable of doing the ungodly acts of those in years past. However, the Pharisees could not see the damage, hurt, and oppression that they were causing. They were causing the very same problems for which they were criticizing their ancestors. They were actually leading people away from God! They were performing the very opposite of their job description, the very opposite of their call from the Lord (Matthew 23:23-33). Do not be a Pharisee; they are not fair, you see!
Considerations with Judgments
Judgmental attitude cannot exist with a Christian mindset. The two cannot be in the same place at once; each one has to occupy the whole room. A Christian mindset will remove a Judgmental attitude, and vice versa. Pride is the ultimate destroyer of humbleness, of being a mature, faithful follower of Christ. Pride produces the rotten fruit of hypocrisy, and humbleness is the destroyer of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot exist in an environment filled with humbleness. This is because in our humbleness, we are glued to our Lord and not to ourselves. Godliness cannot exist in an atmosphere of pride!
1. How do you think the Lord feels when we misrepresent Him in the world?
2. Is there a difference between pride and hypocrisy? How are they alike? How do they fuel each other?
3. Read Matthew 23:23-33; How would you define hypocrisy?
4. Living as an honest Christian should be a natural endeavor. So, why does this sometimes fail to happen?
5. Why would Christians elevate their desires, goals, and aspirations over those of anyone else, even the Lord?
6. Are we doing life and church as Christ would, or, are we mirroring our feelings and desires, regardless of our mandate from our Lord?
7. Do you believe that hypocrisy is a destroyer of the church? What about a destroyer of your personality?
8. Do you believe that as Christians, we have the responsibility to act as disciples of Christ wherever we are and whatever we do?
9. Are you putting on a performance, or are you genuinely focused on the Lordship of Christ so that He flows to those around you?
10. How can you let other Christians hone and challenge you without causing you to be discouraged?
11. Pride is the destroyer of humbleness. Pride is the fruit of hypocrisy (or should I say rotten vegetable?), and humbleness is the destroyer of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot exist in an environment filled with humbleness because when we are humble we are glued to our Lord and not to ourselves. How can you destroy the attitude of hypocrisy?
12. Do you build your spiritual life from your faith, or from what you have done?
13. Remember the ultimate judgment is still to come! So, are you preparing yourself for that day when the Lord will judge you (John 12:48; 2 Corinthians 5:10)?
14. Do we try to keep our image intact only to Christians around us, letting our true nature slip with people at work, or when we go shopping? The problem is that most people, especially non-Christians, will see right through our hypocrisy, even though we may not see or admit to it!
15. Most Christians just flat out do not want to change their behavior, regardless of what anyone thinks, or what Scripture teaches. What about you?
16. The hypocrisy that most people display happens in the workplace. For example, suppose someone acts unkindly towards a co-worker by spreading rumors or being abrupt to his/her fellow employees. When people later find out that that person is active in a church, the issue is compounded, and a negative focus is placed upon Christianity! How have you done this or seen it done?
17. We have to be willing to look at our flaws, the things we all need to improve on, and ourselves, and place our focus there. Our responsibility is to grow in character, not point out faults in others unless it is done through the relationship of a mentor, and with the disposition of the Fruits of the Spirit. For good relationships to be built, we have to be willing and able to treat others in the same manner we want to be treated. How can you create a mindset to do this?
Don't ever believe that our performances are realities; people will see right through us. There are times when we have bad days, when we will make mistakes; after all, we are human, and we cannot be perfect all the time. I do not believe our culture wants us to be perfect, but genuine. So, when we make mistakes, we need to be up front about it, be willing to apologize, give in, and go to the people who were intentionally or unintentionally hurt and make up with them. Practicing forgiveness and acceptance are paramount, even though it goes against the grain of our old nature. But remember, God calls us out of our old nature to be transformed by Him.
After we become a Christian, a time must come when the reality of who we are in Christ hits home in power and conviction. We must completely change the black, dirty oil of the mind with the new golden, anointing oil of His love. As a Christian, the Spirit transforms us completely from all we were and all that we did, including our Will, our plans, and our opportunities (Romans 12; 2 Corinthians 3:18). This cannot happen unless we give up and yield our selfish Will over to His (Galatians 2:20-21; Philippians 3:1-14)! The incentive for us to surrender to Christ is that His way is better than ours! The icing on the cake of that incentive is the improvement in our relationships, both the current ones and the ones to come. Paul's main concern was whether his teaching would be applied, or just studied, or ignored. So, carefully look over your spiritual life and pray about how it affects your personality, how you are to others, and be willing to take action.
When should a Christian Judge?
We are called to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; Galatians 6:1; 1 John 4:1). We are to be discerning, and not allow immorality and false teachings to emerge from our lives, the Church, or allow such things to attack the Church from the outside. It is just as the U.S. military is commissioned to protect citizens from enemies, both foreign and domestic! The Lord also condemns judging in the spirit of self-righteousness and condemnation, without mercy or love (Luke 6:36-37; James 2:13).
So, what should we do? The right way to help someone with "faults" is to go to them privately with constructive criticism in love, and offer gentle, humble analysis and help that would lift them up (Matthew 10: 12-15; Acts 13:42-46; 2 Timothy 2:24-26). If we remain silent when people do dumb things, they will keep doing them and hurt the Church. It is the same with the teaching of false doctrine or when someone behaves wrongly; we have to act, but act in the parameters of the Fruits of the Spirit. We are not to allow reproach, that is, false impressions, to come upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, causing Him to be misrepresented. Remember the need for prayer and the need for love!
When we fully recognize our dependence on Christ, and fully feel the love and acceptance we have from Him, our spiritual walk will increase. When our walk increases, the flow of love and care will proceed from us in a powerful and focused way, because then we will see that we already have all that we could ever want or need. All that we are, and all that we could ever be, is found in Christ. Just remember, this just does not accidentally happen; you have to work at it!
May God help keep us all from such judging, and enable us to be more useful in helping others with their problems.
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of 'Into Thy Word Ministries, 'a discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word and is also a pastor, teacher, speaker and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in © 2003 R. J. Krejcir, www.intothyword.org
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of 'Into Thy Word Ministries, 'a discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word and is also a pastor, teacher, speaker and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in © 2003 R. J. Krejcir, www.intothyword.org
© 2003 R. J. Krejcir, www.intothyword.org