Have you ever heard someone say to a Christian, “Stop being all holier than thou!” Have you ever thought that about another Christian or heard it from another Christian? Or have you had someone say it to you?
If you’ve had someone say it to you, what did it make you think about? We are constantly told by fellow Christians and non believers that we’re not supposed to judge. Usually they will say the phrase from scripture, “Judge not” as if it’s one of the 10 Commandments, but rarely do they consider the rest of the same verse, or judging the spirit, or fruits thereof. Christians who live for Jesus, who have put away the things of the world that we may have found fun or attractive when we were unbelievers find themselves being accused of acting all holy and righteous.
This is something I’ve had on my mind to write about for quite a while, but just never really found a way to do it without sounding… judgmental. It’s not a subject that many people consider, even fellow Christians, but it’s an important part of being a believer- a follower of Christ, which is not a religion, but a relationship.
Have you ever looked at your parents, or other couples you know, who seem to ‘meld’ together so well after being together for years? It’s true, many married couples, especially those who have seen a few milestone anniversaries sometimes think so alike, they can finish each others’ sentences or thoughts. Sure there may be differences of opinions and personalities, yet they have enough in common and being a loving couple who want to do things for each other, tend to spend a lot of time together, so that they begin to act like each other. It’s the same way when we walk in the Christian faith- Jesus is our love, and we should want to desire to be more like Him. In fact if we are committed Christians, born again in the Holy Spirit, then we are being transformed (if we allow God to do it) into His likeness. That ought to be the desire of every Christian.
When I first met my ex’s family, I got along well with his brothers and sister and dad, but his mom was different, and it was apparent that she wasn’t exactly thrilled with me either. I wasn’t a Christian at that time, and although I had been raised in a Christian faith, going to church as a kid, I was in the midst of my search and path at that time. His mom was a devout southern Pentecostal, and I thought she was judgmental, rude and yes, Holier than thou. His dad was a devout Baptist, but while he was very conservative and a good Christian man, he had a way of not making you feel like you were sitting in the judgement seat every time you visited. Yes he had strong beliefs and convictions, and was outspoken on many social issues, but he had a little more openness to be in the world, but not be a partaker of it. While I understand the whole “bible thumper” “Holy Roller” thing, after a few years, and eventual growth in my own walk as a born again believer, I also understand more of how his mom wasn’t necessarily a snob and mean spirited, but that she tried to keep worldly things in their place, and live a life which was separate from all of the usual temptations that the “principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world” constantly bombard us all with.
1 Peter 1:15 and 16 tells us, But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
God calls us to be holy. Now I know there is no way we can be as holy as He is, because we’re human, and still in a fallen world where we still wrestle with sin- but that doesn’t mean that we should embrace it. The Bible also tells us that we are new creations in Christ, that we are being transformed, and to put off the old sin nature.
I’ve noticed a lot in my walk with Jesus- yes, I still sin, but when I do, I grieve because I know it hurts God. I repent, turn away, because I don’t want to do things that grieve my Savior. I see some behaviors that I used to do, and not that it’s necessarily evil and horrid, but it was worldly. And I am changing, being transformed, where some of those things I don’t do anymore bother me when I see others doing them, especially if they are believers. While I don’t go around picking on people’s behavior, if, for instance it’s someone close to me, like my son, I will say something about it, to try and help him understand it’s a habit that needs to be changed. Am I judging him for it? No, I’m trying to help him see that I know from experience that it could lead to other things which would cause harm. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite- because as once I was, I am not anymore and I want to help others avoid the same things I ran into troubles with.
Am I holier than him, or anyone else? Maybe, or it may seem that way, because I put away my old desires and see them for worldly temptations that aren’t a part of the Father’s Kingdom. I’m not perfect but I am different than I was, and I am more aware now of what it is to deny certain things so I can be ‘holy’, or set apart from them. Again, this should be the desire of every born again believer.
Yet in our world whenever a Christian is engaged in debate about worldly or sinful behaviors, the judgement and holy labels are bound to come out. What should we do then? Stop the discussion due to politically correct notions of tolerance and love, or do we allow the world view to effect our Biblical view? And what about when we’re discussing with fellow believers who have a more accepting view of social issues such as abortion, adultery or homosexuality?
The other day on another site, someone posted a link to an article about adultery, which was featured the Sunday after Valentine’s Day on CBS’s “Sunday Morning” which was a study of marital infidelity.
The article (I won’t bother posting it here) was typical of modern day ‘experts’ and therapists who twist everything that was once shameful about cheating spouses, into something misunderstood, and basically suggesting we need to be more tolerant to those who cheat, because there are in their views, many valid reasons for cheating.
The one part in the article which jumped out to me was when the therapist, having more of a problem with those who call it cheating, not with the cheater. “We do not claim moral superiority just because we haven’t cheated,” she insisted. “And just because we haven’t had sex with somebody else, we think we are the mature, and the committed, and the superior? This has got to change, or we will never have an honest conversation about this.”
As soon as one brings moral relativity into the discussion, there is not going to be an honest discussion. Being considered ‘superior’ or in other words, judgmental and holier than thou when it comes to being “anti adultery” is not an honest discussion. It’s not even really a religious thing, but a societal thing and even secularists know that adultery can tear families apart and has real victims involved. Yes, there is a large moral argument, scriptural based as well, as God knows the vulnerability of those who’ve had a spouse cheat, the hurt and anger it produces, and the tearing of marital bonds and effects on children. It even erodes society and can cause violence. Think about what happened with King David when he cheated with Bathsheba, which went from simply seeing her, to lusting after her, to the adulterous act, and then killing her husband. This almost caused him to lose his ‘crown’ and be removed as King of Israel, and cause a civil war.
There are consequences to behaviors that the bible calls sin for a reason. Some of us know by experience the hurt, heart aches and potential physical harm from things that were once taboo in our society, but now are openly promoted. Unfortunately our society has changed so much over the past few decades where certain things were frowned upon and there was still a modicum of shame or modesty. Many behaviors that are antithetical to God’s Word is celebrated, accepted and praised even within the church, especially younger Christians.
Is it judgmental to speak out against something you know is harmful or give reasons why the Bible says it’s sinful? Oftentimes we can explain from experiences why certain behavior is wrong, while also showing the person that since God created us, He knows a little more about us and what is harmful than we do.
We are in the world, even if we’re not of it. We are supposed to be salt and light, and also called to be holy as God is Holy. If we remember not to judge in condemnation, or we will be judged accordingly, but out of love and warning we can and should engage in discussions about worldly things, and especially when engaged with fellow believers, we are allowed to judge the fruits of the spirit and correct them (again, lovingly explaining) when they err in their beliefs that God is OK with sin. If they come back and tell you that you are being holier, then tell them thank you, because that means you are growing in your faith and relationship with Christ and following the command to be Holy.
Give me Lord the mind of Jesus,
Make me holy as He is
May I prove I’ve been with Jesus
Who is all my righteousness
I hope everyone has a blessed Day!