Judgmental Christian hypocrisy seems to be very top of mind to everyday folks that aren’t interested in following Jesus. In fact, I’ve noticed that among America’s pop-culture-influenced millennials, judgmental christian hypocrisy is literally the only impressions they have about Christians.
It’s not a surprise that “the world” considers the hallmark of believers to be judgmental Christian hypocrisy, because I think that Christians very easily drift towards spending 80% of our effort identifying the faults in the world around us while spending only 20% of our effort on self-assessment.
Jesus obviously knew this is an inevitable drift for people, to think too much about the “speck in our neighbor’s eye” and too little about the “plank in our own eye.”
So it’s not just that disciples of Jesus are perceived incorrectly to be judgmental christian hypocrites, it’s that we are essentially doomed to endlessly be drawn towards this mindset.
There are many who are truly, judgmental christian hypocrites, and there is also a coddled notion from unengaged folks that the bible leads to this type of character.
But why do we so easily fall prey to judgmental christian hypocrisy, or pointing out specks in everyone else’s eyes, while ignoring the plank in our own? And what can be done about it?
The Bible doesn’t frame up Christians vs. non-christians as “Sinners vs. not-as-bad sinners.” The Bible teaches that all people are under the curse of sin and that the penalty we carry for this sin is eternal death. True Christians are simply those who’ve placed their faith and trust in Jesus.
True Christians are disciples of Jesus who’ve placed their faith and trust in Him, and pursue obedience of His commands. Christians are people who have recognized that they are sinners, placed their faith in Jesus’ work on the cross to forgive them, and “walk with Him” in faith and deed.
Most importantly, true Christians need to understand that they are utterly depraved at heart. Their heart is deceitful, and it is only Christ dwelling in them that shines as light.
Thesis: When it comes to our own sins, we have a tendency to dwell on the goodness, mercy and forgiveness of God, and assume people should afford us the same, but when it comes to the sins of others, we too easily mark them as hypocrites.
Reducing Judgmental Christian Hypocrisy:
“What a hypocrite!” my buddy exclaimed. “How can someone claim they’re a Christian and that they honor God, when they spend 100% of their money on themselves and are in big-time debt?” “They’re not a Christian, they’re a Hypocrite!”
While these were not my words, I’ve had these type of thoughts jump through my head in response to all sorts of calamities believers find themselves in. These type of thoughts pop in my head every time I see fellow disciple of Jesus act foolishly, speak judgmentally, or act hypocritcally.ALL OF US HAVE A TENDENCY TO WANT GRACE FOR OURSELVES AND JUSTICE FOR EVERYONE ELSE. Click To Tweet
It’s easy to see the duplicity in our managers, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and spouses and there’s an easy tendency to think justice ought be administered to them. Not only do we too easily spot the faults and injustices in others, but we will inherently tend to elevate our own integrity above its true measure. When it comes to our own sins, we have a tendency to dwell on the goodness, mercy and forgiveness of God, and think of how people should afford us the same grace, but when it comes to the sins of others, we too easily mark them as hypocrites.Not only do we too easily spot the faults and injustices in others, but we will inherently tend to elevate our own integrity above its real merit Click To Tweet
In Romans 12:3, Paul tells believers “do not think of (ourselves) more highly than we ought to think, but think with sober judgement, each according the measure of faith that God has assigned”.Click To Tweet
I’m no theologian, but in the context of that chapter, God seems to be using Paul to tell us that we need to examine our own lives with sober scrutiny. He also seems to imply that there is a relationship or connection between our ability to see ourselves accurately and the measure of our faith.there is a relationship or connection between our ability to see ourselves accurately and the measure of our faith romans 12:3 Click To Tweet
It seems that while our tendency is to drift towards wanting justice for others and mercy for ourselves, the more mature our faith is, the more we grasp our depravity. As we develop this awareness, perhaps we’ll not be as infatuated with, or flippant about, the flaws and hypocrisy of others.
When we don’t afford others unmerited favor, we will elevate our own holiness and self righteousness. But by cultivating a healthy respect for our need for grace in light of our utter depravity, we can be transformed into people with tender, merciful hearts that have an easier time showing love and mercy to everyone we encounter.
This realization comes from forming a deep and intimate relationship with our heavenly father through Jesus Christ and working to find the areas of our heart and life that are still sinful and disobedient to God.
The closer we get to Jesus by understanding His holiness, the more we realize how unworthy we are of His grace. Mature Christians have a deeper understanding of the extent of their depravity, which causes their thankfulness for God’s mercy to be on the tips of their tongues, and on the top of their minds.
The more we become aware of our own sin, the less we’ll find ourselves going on rants about the “stupidity” of other people or about our displeasure with them.
Too often I hear us modern Christians (myself included) talk about how we should have a righteous and Holy anger toward the culture which is purposefully embracing Godlessness and sin. We’ll say things like “we need to stand up for truth” and we’ll speak to our brothers and sisters in Christ about the “awfulness” that’s observable in the world’s flippant dismissal of God. That’s what marks us by judgmental christian hypocrisy.
Rather than speaking or ranting in such a manner, and getting “Fed up”, we should turn to our knees in prayer and continuously ask a couple of questions.
It can be easy to see ourselves with “rose colored glasses” when we’re apathetic in our faith. When we become totally focused on making money, being a parent, and the American day-to-day with plenty and wealth, it can be really easy to become less aware of our own need for grace. When we forget this need for grace, we tend to easily focus on the justice we wish for others.
Here are four practices to cure our tendency to being people marked by judgmental christian hypocrisy.
3 ways to Cultivate our understanding of our own need for grace.
1 – Assess if your life is pointing to Jesus
When we start to examine our lives, hearts, words, and relationships, in light of God’s holiness, we will be humbled.
Examine by asking:
- Am I a Light to others?
- Is my life a testimony to the truth and grace of Jesus?
- Am I relationally engaged in a winsome manner, with those I tend to think deserve my “righteous anger?”
If we don’t make the case through our love, joy, and peace as a “fragrant” type of life in society, then the world will be consumed by darkness. Darkness cannot penetrate light, and it cannot overcome it. John wrote about this to illustrate Jesus coming into the dark world and being the light which shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. His analogy is perfect, because darkness is simply a lack of light, and you can’t “shine” or project darkness, it simply fills the void where light is absent.Click To Tweet
This means that we need to be a light, akin to a lamp set out to shine in the darkness.
When the darkness of this world is filled with billions of little lights, trying to shine brightly, the darkest areas begin to have a new hope offered to them by the glow; no matter the wickedness, injustice, violence and darkness.
We are called to be a living example, a testimony for the goodness of our savior; as His promises and goodness is displayed in our lives.
This means that we can’t just take our light and “hide it under a bush” OH NO! it musnt be hidden in only our homes, church buildings, and jobs. We must humbly bring it to where the darkness is – which is easier and clearer than you think.
I think asking this question is all about finding out if we are like Jesus, who wasn’t afraid of “guilt by association” as He engaged with notorious sinners. He knew how to be with them, and let His light shine while still not falling prey to the proverbial ways to be sucked into darkness. Be in the world, but not “of” the world.
God provides us opportunities to accomplish His work when we choose to slow down and interact with the souls around us. This doesn’t mean we have to be an extrovert, but it does mean that we’ll start to start asking of people “ought I to interact in a relational manner?” “God, is there an opportunity to care for this person?” or perhaps you start praying for a person.
God provides us opportunities to accomplish His work when we choose to slow down and interact with the souls around us.
You might have a fear of talking with strangers, or you might be super introverted, this doesn’t mean that you wont have the opportunities to notice one person, over time, and have a God-ordained opportunity to allow enough vulnerability for them to see Jesus’ work in your life.
I think this is all about looking around you and seeing if God shows you a person that He wants you to notice. Maybe it’s just one person, but when we bring our light into the lives of someone who only has darkness, it will have an affect.
When we’re working to be a light, we’ll start to identify ways we aren’t relating or shining our lights, which causes us to realize we’ve fallen short in this area. Nothing can humble us more than realizing that we’re missing some of God’s opportunities for us to obey Him in His great commission, often because we’re too self focused, too busy, or just not paying attention.
2 – Examine Where we’re lacking in Holiness.
Sin causes little bits of death, and also causes havoc in our relationship with GOd and with our ability to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Sin will hurt our ability to be a light, sin can “hinder our prayers”, and sin messes with everything in our lives EVEN if we’re saved by God’s grace.
So it’s good to find areas that are not holy, not righteous, and not obedient to Christ yet.
We should ask ourselves, “what hidden sin in my life, that I might not even know about yet, is getting in the way of my ability to build winsome relationships with others or to serve as a living testimony?” Expose the sin in our lives and hearts.
So what can we do about a hidden sin that we don’t even know about, that’s getting in the way of our relationship with God and others? We need to expose the sin in us, so we can clean up after it. There are five primary ways that you can use to expose sin in your life, which can keep you from being righteous and know your need for grace.
Five Primary ways that God will expose our sin:
a – God’s word
b – God’s holy spirit
c – our spouses
d – our christian brothers and sisters
e – corporate teaching & other teaching
Another great way to work on our holiness is to start assessing our lives and praying these two prayers found in the psalms.
Ask God to show you disobedience by praying these two prayers:
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me and know me, test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You (God) and lead me along the path of everlasting life”.
Psalm 19:13-14 “How can I know the sins lurking inside me? Cleanse me from these hidden faults and keep me from deliberate sins; don’t let them control me. THen I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”.
By praying these two prayers often, He’s shown me where my heart, mouth, and life is does not honor Him.
Reading God’s word, and assessing the gaps between our lives and what it teaches, is a tremendous tool that goes hand-in-hand with the prayers above.
As we increase in holiness, we start to relate better with God and people, and we’ll serve as a better witness to people and we’ll ultimately become more graceful due to our realization for our own need for grace.
Again, this whole post is about helping us see our own need for grace.
3 – Sacrifice to Honor God. Put to work the investment God’s made in you.
We’re often kept spiritually stagnant because we don’t do anything hard that would honor God.
I know I struggle with the question “in light of all I”m blessed with, how do I truly do anything hard for Christ?” What way might God be honored, by trying something hard?
I know I struggle with the question “in light of all I”m blessed with, how do I truly do anything hard for Christ?”
Trying to reach a friend for Christ. Giving to Church, a needy person, or a charity until it brings us to our knees is a tremendous way to honor God. Or how about building something that would honor God, like a ministry of some sort? How about mentoring kids that you have nothing to gain from? How about relationally building into someone that you have nothing to gain from?
Nothing can better show us where we lack, and where God has to come through, then when we take holy risks for God. As we do these types of things, God will bless us, care for us, and we’ll be humbled into deeper dependence on God.
When we depend on God more, we are more aware of our own need for grace and His provision. When we risk nothing for Christ, when we simply preside over the investment that God has given us, there is no need for mind bending faith, or complete reliance.
In America, we have a tendency to honor God in just little ways, or even no way. Look at the parable of the king who gave an investment to three people. One invested big time, putting it to work, and when the king returned He had a huge reward. Then there is the next person who invested it only slightly, who is rewarded just a little. But the one who buried the gift and just sat on it for safeties cause, was punished!
When we put to work the gifts God has given us, then we are rewarded and we honor God more greatly, but it’s also an expression of our faith in the goodness, faithfulness, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. When we invest all that we have for Him, we are saying that we trust HIs promise, and believe in a bigger way.