One criticism of Christians is that we’re harsh and judgmental when speaking with non-Christians. Is this true?
I’m sure there are some believers who are like this. But consider the following:
– What do non-Christians mean that we’re harsh and judgmental?
– Do they mean you have be Mr. Nice Guy even when confronted with terrible evil?
– Do they mean you have to agree with them?
– Do they mean we have to legally support their right even if we disagree with it?
– Do they mean that no one can be offended by what we say?
– Do we have to remain cool, calm, and unemotional when discussing controversial subjects?
It’s no surprise that people may disagree with Christians on certain issues. But when they are passionate about their beliefs while expecting us to be cool, calm, and collected about ours, that’s hypocritical. If we’ve been civil and polite, don’t let them tell you otherwise. If they feel offended by our views, that’s their problem, not ours. Be able to support your viewpoint without losing your temper. If it’s an online exchange, be civil and polite but firm in your convictions. If they accuse you of being judgmental, point out that they’re doing the exact same thing by judging you. You don’t have to accept their opinion as a fact.
Some believers feel if we offend someone, we’re not speaking the truth in love. Why are they focusing on the “in love” part while ignoring the “truth” part? Sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes it offends people. We should never let the “in love” part stop us from telling the “truth” part. Please understand, I’m not saying it’s OK to be obnoxious. But there were times when Jesus was mad and even called people names. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin”. So yes, we can be angry about something evil or someone that’s done evil. But there are guidelines that the Bible gives that we should follow so that justice can be served without falling into sin. That is why we’re commanded to “love your neighbors as yourself (Mark 12:31). Jesus reserved His name-calling for those who twisted the scripture to suit their own religious/political agenda. This is a fine line for us Christians to walk but walk it we must.
The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were the religious leaders of Israel, but they were also the political leaders. Rome let them rule and only interfered when collecting taxes and applying the death penalty. All other religious and political rules were up to these “leaders”. All of Matthew 23 has Jesus addressing these “leaders”. It’s in this chapter that He calls them “blind guides”, “a brood of vipers”, “hypocrites”, “blind fools”, “whitewashed tombs” and a slew of other names. Yes, Jesus called these people names. He even accused them of murdering the Old Testament prophets that God has sent to correct the ungodly path that these “leaders” had lead Israel down. Somehow, I can’t imagine that the Old Testament prophets were “nice, inoffensive guys that everyone liked” (1 Kings 22:13-28).
There is such a thing as righteous anger and Jesus displayed it at times. If we want to be more like Jesus, shouldn’t that include this aspect of His character also? Many of the Old Testament prophets railed against Israel for sinning against God. Should we be different? God has called believers to be watchmen-on-the-wall (Ezekiel 33). God has harsh words for watchmen who don’t do their job (Ezekiel 33: 4-6). Like the Old Testament prophets warning Israel that they were sinning against God, shouldn’t we be warning people when America turns against God when they enact ungodly laws, politicians, or by their actions? We aren’t being faithful to God when we are speaking “in love” but not the “truth”. But our anger should not control us long. We shouldn’t live there and we should always be forgiving toward the person who wronged us. We don’t want a ‘root of bitterness’ to grow inside of us (Hebrews 12:15). Maybe we should wait a while to consider how we react to something (James 1:19-20).
I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God. We shouldn’t be pressured into silence because we might offend someone. The gospel is offensive (1st Corinthians 1:18).
Finally, what does the Bible mean when it says to “Speak the truth in love”? It doesn’t mean to always be ‘Mr. Nice, Inoffensive Guy.’ It is love that causes a person to flag down passing cars that the bridge ahead is out. Some people see this as a nuisance and drive right by that person. You may never know how you affected that person. Maybe he just wrote you off as a religious fanatic. Maybe God used what you said to him years later, right before he accepted Jesus as his Savior. This happened to me. I had ridiculed my college roommate’s faith several times. But years later, when I accepted Jesus into my life, God reminded me of some of the things that he has said to me. My old college roommate planted and watered the seed that eventually grew into faith in Jesus. Unfortunately, he never knew of my decision to accept Christ. I’m sure he’ll know about it in heaven.
We may be despised and ridiculed by the world for what we believe in, but what sweet words Jesus will say to us when we meet Him, “Well done good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21).
But some people will not listen to you no matter how nicely you witness to them. Jeremiah spoke against the evils of his day. He was sawn in half because he kept doing what God had called him to do.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Bible Study Courses for Life