Yesterday we looked at five strategies to stop us getting pulled down by the faults and failings of other Christians. If that didn’t work, here are five more:
1. Springboard from Christians to Christ
When you are tempted to start mulling over someone’s imperfection, think instead about the opposite perfection in Jesus. If you are pained by someone’s harsh or lying tongue, consider how Jesus’ words were full of grace and truth. If a friend is condemning the pastor’s self-promotion, turn attention to the One who made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant. If you are discussing the rampant materialism of some Christians, remember also to ponder the Christ who, though He was rich, yet made Himself poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. There is no sin found in a Christian that cannot act as a springboard to Christ and his contrasting beauty.
2. See your own faults in them
It’s amazing how we can be especially hard on people who have the same peculiar failings as we do. It’s a kind of perverse technique for salving our own consciences: if I can find someone who’s even worse than me, it somehow makes me feel a whole lot better. The hyper-critical are often the most hypocritical.
When you detect that you are being especially critical of another Christian, seriously ask yourself if it’s because this is your own besetting sin as well. Are you appalled at Lesley’s pride? Maybe it’s too much like your own. Are you horrified at Jim’s gossip? Maybe your tongue’s also out of control. Are you aghast at the Brown’s spending habits? Maybe it’s because you’ve been in debt for years too. God may have sent these people into your life to act as a mirror to your own sins. Don’t attack the mirror; use it to see what’s wrong in your own life.
3. Measure Christ’s forgiveness
As the person who has been forgiven most also loves most, ask the Lord to show you how much you have been forgiven. The more you appreciate the depth, length, breadth and height of God’s forgiveness, the more you will love Him.
But we can do this by proxy as well. When we see how much other Christians still sin, we can get the spiritual ruler out to measure the immeasurable pardoning love of God towards them as well. And when we realize we can never find enough rulers or tapes to get record accurate dimensions of this forgiving grace, we can love God for that as well. He who has been forgiven much loves much. He who sees how much others have been forgiven, loves God for that too.
Nothing silences criticism so much as pondering how Christ has loved people like us. That He loved me and gave Himself for me is amazing. That he loved them and gave Himself for them, is sometimes even more amazing.
4. Identify the accuser
The hyper-critical tend to think of themselves as hyper-holy. However, unknown to them, they may well be at that very moment an unholy instrument in the hand of the evil One. The Devil has made a career out of maligning and denouncing Christians, so much so that He is called “The Accuser.” He lays his charges directly and via intermediaries, some of whom are unsuspecting Christians who actually think they are doing the Lord’s work. He comes with lies about Christians and he comes with truths about Christians, but whether his allegations are true or false his aim is the same, pull down Christians so as to pull down our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions. Why not ask yourself, if perhaps you are a unwitting pawn in the devil’s clever hands, doing his dirty work while he cackles in the background.
5. Keep Jesus front and center
Our minds are a vast universe demanding to be filled. Each of our senses is continually vacuuming information into our internal galaxies, sending various facts and feelings into mental orbit, darkening or lightening our lives as they go.
We can’t stop our sensory vacuums, but we can decide what gets sucked inside. We can direct our nozzles to the dark hypocrisy of other believers, or we can hoover up truths about Christ. The former creates black holes; the latter produces a non-stop sunrise (Lk. 11:34-36). Suck in the bright light of Christ; let Him and His word dwell in you richly.
Above all, consider that Jesus will yet perfect His most imperfect people and present them to His Father with exceeding joy and great glory. What a transformation! What a metamorphosis! What glory to God and good will toward men. What a Savior!