Too many Christians spend their free time criticizing other Christians. It seems that a lot of focus today is put on knocking down the brethren and pointing out how they are still lost in sin. Sometimes I think that our Heavenly Father looks down at us and just wants to shout, “Children, stop fighting!” Oh, how all of this criticism must hurt Him!
None of us are perfect, yet many will argue that we have the right to judge others and some have even turned it into a self-appointed ministry to judge our brothers and sisters. God tells us to love our brethren; He doesn’t instruct us to constantly judge them and mock them.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” 1 John 3:14
Yes, we should judge doctrine and we should judge those preaching a doctrine because our spiritual walk depends on it. We should compare what is being taught to the scriptures, and if it doesn’t line up then God says we should not follow that person or that doctrine. He also tells us to speak to the ones who are preaching a false message to correct them and then to even warn others to not listen to them. But that doesn’t mean that we should judge everyone who isn’t exactly as we are.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” … Matthew 7:15-19
Jesus has warned us to beware of the false leaders and He tells us how we can know them. However, many new Christians don’t know the scriptures well enough to discern this and so mature Christians certainly do need to point these false preachers out to them. But it shouldn’t become a goal in life to find these individuals and regularly declare who they are and judge them. And it is not the Christian’s responsibility to bring them down because that is the authority and responsibility of the Lord – to judge them and cast them into the [lake of] fire.
Our objective in life is to preach the good news so people can be saved. We need to love each other and encourage each other to follow Jesus, not to continually give Satan glory for the wrong that Christians or so-called Christians do.
“And He said unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’” … Mark 16:15
Jesus did not say to condemn and criticize those who are weak in Christ or those who are not exactly where we are on the path to Heaven. He said to preach the gospel! He said to love the brethren. He said to feed the hungry and to give to the poor and to pray for one another. When Jesus walked the earth He constantly taught His disciples about God and Heaven, and He was their example and our example of what God, our Heavenly Father, expects from us.
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” … Matthew 4:23
Some will argue that Jesus corrected and even criticized the Pharisees and the Sadducees and it’s true that He did, but only when they confronted Him. He did not spend time searching them out and then going to where they were to criticize and condemn them. It was when they came to Him and tried to trick Him and tried to prove Him to be a false prophet that He rebuked them. If you read the Four Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke & John] you’ll see what Jesus preached and how He addressed those who came against Him.
Our mission is to preach the gospel and to love one another, and that doesn’t mean criticizing and judging our brethren all the time. We need to be witnesses for God of His love and His grace, of His mercy and His forgiveness, of His strength and His power.
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”… Matthew 14:1-5
If we aren’t able to change a person or their actions then we should pray for them. God tells us clearly in James 5:16 to pray for our brothers and sisters. When a group of men brought the adulterous woman to Jesus [John 8:7] even He did not condemn her. Instead He told the accusers, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” He knew that these people were learned in the scriptures and so He used the scriptures to throw the condemnation back at them, and in shame and conviction they all left her.
Let’s not become like the Pharisees and spend our time exalting ourselves through our acts of tearing down others. Let’s be humble before God and serve Him with a pure heart and not one that’s filled with judgment toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. We won’t earn Brownie points by showing off how many of our brethren we can judge; instead we will subject ourselves to be judged by God.
“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” … Luke 14:11
When we criticize our brothers and sisters, no matter how wrong they may be about some issues, we hurt God. We are all of His children and when we fight it hurts Him because He loves all of us equally. He knows that some of us are falling off the path and He knows that others are doing things they shouldn’t, but He loves us all anyway. And He expects us to step in and help those who need help, and not to judge and mock them.
So instead of criticizing we need to spend time in prayer for them and we need to love them with the love of God IN SPITE of how they are acting. It’s not our place to judge them. It’s our responsibility to be obedient to God’s Commission and to share the gospel and His love with others. There’s no greater way to show gratitude for God’s grace toward us than to put judgment aside and love our own brothers and sisters as He loves us.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” … 1 John 4:7-11