Most people who have a negatively skewed sense of Christianity feel that way because of how they see Christians live. There are generally two ways a Christian can enhance the negative perception of others. The first way is to become legalistic and judge people based on rules that the other person has not put themselves under. The second way is by acting against the rules that the Christian has voluntarily put themselves under (hypocrisy). Because of these inconsistencies, I have put together a few steps to correct and walk along side our fellow Christians.
In order to effectively and rightly judge others, the first thing we have to do is heed the words of Paul to the Church in Philippi, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (Philippians 2:3 NASB)”. This is vital to be faultless in our critique of our brothers and sisters. Thinking of others as more important than ourselves will allow us to put a wall of defense up against pride. Sure you may have studied the bible longer than a certain person and maybe they are completely out of line according to the bible but no one has ever become a Christian from an attack. I am not saying that we can’t defend our faith, but what I am saying is that arguments don’t change people. If we are telling people what they are doing wrong simply because we want to be right we are not showing humble love. Humility requires us to listen rather than speak. We must come to an understanding and then guide to the truth. This mindset leads us into the next step of righteous judgment.
Find Out What They Know
Much of the New Testament was written to churches that needed be reminded of the truth they already knew. The New Testament writers were personally involved with the early churches, hearing the things they were doing gave the writers the ability to write to the churches in Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Rome, etc, and tell them that they needed to change in certain areas. Moreover, the writers usually planted and taught these churches. So they already knew what the people in the church should have known and were already taught. But for us in this time we have not taught our brothers and sisters and do not know what they know so we cannot easily point out where they fall short because they may not know what they are doing wrong. This is where humility comes in. We have to ‘be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;’ (James 1:19 NASB) When we listen we may be convicted in our heart that we are in the wrong, or we may be able to understand where they are coming from and where they went wrong in accordance with Scripture.
Pray Over Our Convictions
Is this conviction significant? – Am I being zealous for the wrong things (Pharisaical)? Am I putting too much weight into this issue instead of looking at the bigger picture? Will this issue take away from their relationship with God or with others? What does the scripture say about this? Is this a bigger issue than issues going on in my life?
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3 NASB)
What is the best way to bring up the issue? – What ways could I loving show them the issue? Does this require confrontation because they have already been reminded of the truth? Can I guide them in studying scripture to figure out for themselves the dangers of their actions?
‘But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, (Ephesians 4:15)
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.’ (Matthew 18:15-17)
As we pray over these verses we will be able to better recognize what the actual issue is, as well as how to best help them see the error in their ways.
Our culture has a tendency to determine the significance of a mistake. When one person takes a jab at someone, the surrounding ‘vulture’ culture will quickly take more jabs at that person’s mistake. Christians can become vultures too. But in following the example of Jesus, we need to step out of the shadow of our culture and stick to the Bible when it comes to being graceful about people’s mistakes. Then if we have done everything we can to bring them into a closer personal relationship with Christ and they still are in their sin then confrontation might be needed. Even though we may not think confrontation is worth the effort, if we test the issues with Scripture and through prayer, we have to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit is leading us to say to our brothers and sisters in Christ.