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What Does the Bible Say About … BELIEVERS AND JUDGMENTALISM?

Why are some people so judgmental?

The Speck of Sawdust

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:3-5 NIV)

On the door to my classroom I have a sign that reads: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye, while you have a telephone pole in your own eye?

You won’t believe what a great conversation starter this has become. Some wonder if it has to do with stargazing, but many identify with it immediately, as they have experienced first-hand the judgmental attitude of others.

How would you like to be forced by your pastor to stay at church all day, even though you are sick with high fever, just because he’s counting on your vote at that night’s boardmeeting?

How about being hit in the face by your very own pastor and ending up at the emergency room because you disagreed with him?

How would you feel if your wife was criticized as being a heathen because she wasn’t wearing a dress or hat, and because she was wearing a wedding ring?

What if your pastor encouraged your own daughter to move out of your home and to discontinue all contact with you, because you were not meeting the high standards of your church?

Would you like to be shunned by you best friends from your old church, just because you began attending a different one?

What would you do when the Bible is pushed aside in favor of the writings of a modern-day prophet?

All of these things I experienced first-hand in the church I used to call my home, a church where obedience to their form of doctrine was more important than showing grace to struggling members.

Where does such a judgmental attitude come from? Is it even biblical?

Such attitude comes only from one certain source: “…the accuser of our brothers (the evil one), who accuses them before our God day and night…” (Rev 12:10 NIV) The evil one is determined to rob Christians of the joy of their salvation, and one of his main strategies is to keep us under lock and key, bound in the chains of guilt and doubt.

We need to remember one important fact about him, however: “He (the evil one) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44-45 NIV)

He is the one who doesn’t want us believing in the Scriptures or in the grace of God. He specializes in whispering sweet nothings in our ears, making us believe these things are our very thoughts: “God does not care for you…”; “He has abandoned you…”; “How could God like someone like you…”, “I must not be saved if I’m struggling so much…” etc.

His goal? To drain us of all hope and resistance. “My disgrace is before me all day long, and my face is covered with shame at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.” (Psalms 44:15, 16 NIV)

It doesn’t help that he also uses those you consider “significant people” to bring you down. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Rom 14:4 NIV)

In all reality, those who tend to talk behind people’s backs at church are those who like to shame other believers because they do not interpret Scriptures in the same way, or they don’t have the same convictions.

How sad that just about anything can be used as a source of false shame for God’s people: having a TV, sending kids to a public school, speaking in tongues, not speaking in tongues, going to the theater, having a Christmas tree, enjoying country music, not using the right version of the Bible, wearing certain clothing, not wearing certain clothing, consumption of certain foods, daring to go to another church… The list could be endless!

No matter what you do, you can always be certain that somebody out there is pointing his or her gnarly finger at you in disapproval. Such criticism leads toward a shame-based identity that is so devastating to many people.

In all reality, although I love God’s church with all of my heart, some congregations are deeply dysfunctional, for they operate on a guilt and shame-based value system that is completely non-Biblical. The Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus’ days were doing the same and Jesus was far from flattering any of them!

If you are searching for God and want to walk in His footsteps, and week after week you find yourself being shamed in your own church, you need to leave! Prayerfully find a church that holds on to the Word of God and lives out the grace of God, and doesn’t just sing about it.

I am aware that those shame-filled churches hold its members firmly in their grasp by brainwashing them. They tell them that this is the only true church, and that only their interpretation of Biblical doctrine will bring about salvation. They insinuate that if you leave their ranks, you will burn in hell. But this is nonsense! No doctrine can save us, no criticism will ever bring us closer to God! It’s all about having a personal relationship with our personal Saviour! “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)

None of us should live in shame. On the contrary “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Rom 10:11 NIV)

Where does that shame-based judgmental attitude come from?

“But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” (Matt 13:25 NIV)

It comes from our enemy, the evil one, who wants us to be discouraged and hopeless.

Let’s shrug off this kind of criticism and pray for these people, that they may know the Christ, the One who takes away all guilt, the One who already paid the price on the cross for us. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:1-2 NIV)

P. S. Talking behind someone’s back is quite common in the world as well. How could it be otherwise?

And all of this started with a simple sign on my door: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye, while you have a telephone pole in your own eye?

Rob Chaffart