I hate to say this, but it is my observation that we as Christians are some of the most unforgiving people around. I mean, you are more likely to get forgiveness from a so-called “worldly” person than from a Christian most times.
Or maybe forgiveness is the wrong word. Maybe it is that Christians are overly judgmental and quick to condemn people rather than empathise. Quick to cast the first stone rather than stretch out a helping hand.
When someone is in trouble, we are quick to say things like “backslidden” and make it the gossip of the day rather than go down on our knees and pray for them. We have our noses up in the air looking down on them from our pedestal.
Quick to condemn those getting wealthy as being corrupt, witches or Satanists but meanwhile tithing and offering first-fruit offering in the hope of getting a miracle rather than to show gratitude to God.
In trying to trace the roots of this attitude of being judgmental and unforgiving of people I have come to conclude that it is mainly due to one thing – the attitude of thinking we are “better than them”. That “they” are worldly and we are more spiritual. The attitude of feeling we are special and different.
It is in essence the attitude of self-righteousness. We feel we are better and we are in a special class of our own and therefore set apart. Well, scripturally that is true. But the problem is we feel we are entitled to this position, we feel that it is our own inherent goodness and piety that puts us in that position.
We forget the most important thing and that is that our righteousness is not our own but comes from Jesus Christ. He alone is righteous and we all fall short. It is by his grace that we are in such a privileged position. So why do we boast as though it is our own doing?
When someone is in trouble why do we behave like they have messed up beyond redemption? Why do we feel their “filthiness” is worse than ours was? It is the same or at least it was before we bowed to Christ and asked for forgiveness.
We are quick to judge without understanding what it is like to be in that person’s shoes. In fact, we are eager to see people fail and people regress in their Christian walk because somehow that makes us feel better about ourselves and adds to that sense of self-righteousness.
I have done it. I have learnt from it. I have experienced it too. I once stopped going to church and everyone thought I had backslidden, when in fact the truth was I was meditating so much on God’s word that certain things that went on in the church and certain preaching seemed contrary to God’s word to the point that I no longer felt comfortable being there.
I was looking for another church to worship at. My search did not go very well for quite a while as most places I went I would hear the now tired theme of prosperity, getting blessed, wealth and miracle money. But I digress…
What surprised me was no one from the church I had stopped going to ever came up to me or visited me to ask me what the problem was nor offer counsel. I could see a change in attitude in the few I would meet. Not even the pastor, a man I thought we as a family had grown close to, ever called or visited me to ask what the problem was.
No doubt the conclusion had been made -“he has backslidden”…and no doubt many were likely willing to put the nail on the coffin and close that case. But the attitude of shunning people is exactly what keeps some away from the very salvation they desperately need.
Such is the behaviour of many of us as Christians. Self-centred, judging and condemning. But God help us to see the light. We need not judge nor condemn people. We need not take things too personally when people are in such situations. After all, it is about them and their relationship with God. The best we can do is listen, counsel, empathise, pray. Then we let God do the rest.
In Christ alone is our salvation and we are all filthy rags had it not been for his sacrifice on the cross. Let us make him our example because it is folly to follow any man.