In the Steps of the Savior
Consistency is a very rare commodity. The tendency for a man to condemn in others what he practices himself is a well known fact. Listen for a little while to the candidates in this political season and you will no doubt hear it done. However, politicians are not the only ones guilty of such action. A study of the Gospels makes clear the fact that such hypocrisy was wide spread in the time of Jesus. His frequent condemnation of the Pharisees for their dual standards are well known to any Bible student (Matthew 23; Luke 11:46f; Mark 7; etc.).
In the earthly life of our Savior, He always exemplified the same standard He used to judge others. Even in the lives of some who profess identification with Christ, there is sometimes a failure exhibited in daily living the same standard used to judge others. Simply stated, the problem is that some live by one rule, but judge others by a more stringent rule than that imposed upon themselves. The Bible speaks of such a practice and clearly condemns it. Notice this warning given by the apostle Paul in Romans 2:1-3:
It is hypocritical for us to condemn the wrong done by another when we are doing the same thing. Pointing our finger at another's wrong will not excuse us from God's judgment of our own wrong actions. Jesus had much the same thing to say about this in Matthew 7:3-5 when He said these words:
The picture Jesus brings to our mind with this teaching is one in which each of us can readily see the absurdity. None of us want a doctor with a 2 X 4 coming out of his eye to try removing a stye from our own eye. We would tell him to get his own eye problem fixed first. In the same way, if we are going to show the wrong in another's actions, we must first correct our own.
This is the point Jesus makes in the previous two verses as well when he says, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2).
Jesus is not saying that we should absolutely not judge by showing others about their wrongs. He is saying that we must avoid hypocritical judgment of others by condemning them while we are just as guilty, if not more so. In the same chapter, Jesus commands us to judge some to be false prophets by examining their lives (vs. 15-20). Such would not be possible if all judging is wrong.
It does the truth no small amount of harm when people with foul mouths and ungodly conduct take it upon themselves to instruct their fellow citizens about morality. The point they make may be true, but it is stated in word while deed instructs in the opposite direction. Such actions make it appear that people who stand for Bible values are just a bunch of hypocrites. Typically, it is just such a person used by the entertainment and media industry to depict one claiming to be a "Christian." The same may be seen when those who profess to preach the gospel fail to pay their debts or acquire funds through illegal schemes.
Sadly, the failure to live by the same standard used in judging others is not a hypocrisy reserved to those outside the body of Christ. In recent years, it has become popular to condemn preachers who condemn the teaching of specific error and the practice of sinful conduct. Is it not hypocritical to condemn the condemner if condemning is wrong? Or, how about those who gather in a lounge or office to gossip about those engage in gossip? Should not those who condemn one for failing to talk privately with the brother who teaches public error live by the rule they are imposing and talk privately with the one so charged? Or does that rule only work one way? If one writes an article for a publicly distributed bulletin wherein he castigates those who spread teaching done over the Internet, is there not an evident hypocrisy at work? It would be good for all of us to take a close look at ourselves to see if we are being consistent in living the same standard we use in our judgment of others.
When we contrast the actions of Paul and Peter in Galatians 2:11-14, we see the difference between right and wrong judging. Peter acted through hypocrisy on this occasion and stood condemned. Paul rightly rebuked him for such hypocrisy. Paul could effectively do this because he was not acting with the same hypocrisy as was Peter.
Other cases in the New Testament show the same thing. We must oppose evil in the actions of others (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). We must oppose the error taught by others and even name the false teacher (2 Timothy 2:16-18). However, we must be careful not to judge them while we are guilty of the same thing.
This demands that we be constantly involved in self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5). It demands that each "be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). This we can do if we let our lives be guided and corrected each day by God's message of truth.
e-mail this author at HarryO@ij.net
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