It’s a phrase we’ve all heard before and I’m sure something we can all agree with. Judgments made in haste are always a bad idea but are usually most destructive when they involve people. It would be a harmful idea to summarize someone moments after meeting them and yet we do it all the time. And at times, the place where the least judgment should occur happens to be where it occurs the most.
People are notorious for looking at others under their own personal microscope and analyzing or degrading everything from clothing to spiritual zeal. I’ve known men who were told they couldn’t serve in worship service because leadership thought they weren’t dressed nice enough. I’ve heard rumors circulate about how a new convert was homosexual because she didn’t dress or act enough like a lady. I’ve even been on the receiving end of quiet ridicule because I apparently show too much excitement for God and am not reserved enough.
I wonder, are we really showing people Jesus and his kingdom, or are we making them meet our own made-up standards before they’re allowed to join the “club”? Yes, a large segment of society turns its back on God. But are they doing so because of the hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes some Christians carry around? I hope not to come across too harsh, but we need to examine ourselves to make sure we are helping people and not hindering them from knowing God.
Jesus actually addressed this very issue in his day. He constantly criticized the religious elite, the ones who were so arrogant and sure of their righteousness that they looked down their noses at everyone else. Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Matthew 23:13). Jesus tried to teach that our faith in God should produce humility; that we should treat others with a respect deserving of a child of God. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:1-9), not pander to those who glorify their own good behavior.
As Christians, we should do as the name implies…act ” Christ-like.” Jesus didn’t shy away from sinners, from the marginalized, or from the lowliest of society. Such were some of you (1 Corinthians 6:11)! No! We should be the first to love others as we have been loved by Christ. Give it a try. Treat others the way you would like to be treated (Luke 6:31) and see how well it improves your ability to win others for Christ.