So many times people will criticize others when they have never walked in their shoes. How many times have you heard sermons that harshly chastise certain heroes of the faith who faltered or failed in a way that made the speaker seem more spiritual than these great men? While we can judge actions against the Word of GOD as being either good or evil, we must be careful about viewing other’s vices in comparison with our own lives. Others may have been through more tests, trials, and temptations than us due to their success, abilities, or circumstances. They may even be innocent of what vices we seem to perceive in them. Some sin and fail, but they also may accomplish more than us for the LORD, so that in the end, they are more rewarded than we are.
One thing we can do to everyone is … love them and pray for them. On this page are photos illustrating some people who have been judged by others in the past. I love these people! They are examples to us of perseverance. Life isn’t always easy. Many people do whatever their parents or religious crowd or peers do. Few seek GOD and His Truth exclusively. Of those who do, few free themselves of the things of this world. Of those who do, few question the traditions in their particular sect that contradict the Scriptures. Of those who do, few love and pray for others more than they criticize others. Of those who do, only One perfectly modeled the Truth … Jesus Christ.
We all have:
- “Ups” and “downs”
- Failures and triumphs
- Vice and virtue
- “Valleys” and “mountain tops”
Thus, we must be humble enough to admit that we also are weak and leaky vessels who have “ups” and “downs”. We must love and pray for everyone, regardless of how much we disagree with them or see them as having “more vice”. Only Jesus has the right to criticize any of us and He was the One who said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. He was the One who said “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. He was the One who said “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Notice He didn’t call the person who fell into sin a “hypocrite”, but the person who thought he had no sin. Jesus is the one who said that the sinful person who asked GOD for mercy was far more blessed than the devout religious person who saw himself as already “justified” in Luke 18. Jesus was the One who spent about half of His ministry addressing the false spirituality of the Pharisees and religious crowd who were all about judgment, but not love. Jesus was the one who went against the ingrained traditional teaching of His day when He allowed His disciples to eat corn from a field on the Sabbath.
This article is not about giving a “pass” to those who fail to meet the qualifications of Christian leadership according to Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. This article is not about giving a “pass” to heretics or those leaders in Christian circles who teach a fleshly view of Scripture. Paul the Apostle was very clear on such matters and how we are to mark, avoid, and rebuke such people. This article is about showing “grace” to other Christian brothers and sisters who are holding up the standard of truth and holiness, but who struggle with sin. It’s about transparency and allowing others to understand that we aren’t perfect, while still holding the standard high.
Think about the famous “Battle of Iwo Jima” and those soldiers who were holding up the flag. They may have fallen after being shot, but they refused to let the standard fall. Such are the men of the Bible – these godly men of old. They may have fallen after having taken an “arrow” from Satan, but they refused to let Truth and its standards fall lower. They didn’t lower the standard in order to keep their position in ministry or in order to please people who might see them as a hypocrite for being less than perfect while holding the Truth high. They instead knew that Truth was higher than their own lives and must be held high, even if their own lives didn’t reflect perfection. We must be gracious to others who hold Truth high, even when they fall into sin. We must help restore them, knowing that it may be us who falls next.
Elijah’s lack of faith under the juniper tree
We must recognize fleshly fruit and resist it as leaders, but we must also love everyone. We must condemn sin, but love the sinner. We must realize that we ourselves are prone to sin before we grow angry with the sins of our brother. Our human nature tends toward either condemning those with fleshly fruit or justifying them. Seldom do we condemn the fruit, but love the person. If someone has a theological opinion that differs with you, you must still love and pray for them. We must be willing to die in the place of the person to see them come to Jesus Christ, whether it be a prostitute, Jesuit, witch, or pervert. Then again, some may even find it easier to love people like these, but find it almost impossible to love a brother in Christ who disagrees on a theological point such as the KJV only debate, holiness standards, minor doctrinal differences, eschatology, or “conditional security” (vs. “eternal security”).
The balance is that we must vehemently disagree with the fleshly actions and beliefs of some, but we must just as passionately love and pray for them. This is so important. We must model Jesus Christ.