One of the hardest parts of being a Christian, to me, is dealing with judgement from other Christians. You know what I’m talking about. People will always make side remarks about what you are wearing, what holidays you celebrate, and how you eat your bacon. As women, we either offer gossip and pass judgement, or we feel the effect of it by other women. Unfortunately, it’s how we roll.
Now, I know that a lot of people mean well when they try and correct your opinion or belief system. Many of them sincerely believe that because you like contemporary worship music instead of traditional hymns you are definitely going to hell, and I believe they sincerely want to warn you. But let’s face it, unless you are speaking as a prophet with a direct message from God, you are not going to change another person’s convictions with argument, trite remarks, or force. It actually does more harm than good. And God has a lot to say about the way we treat the brethren.
“And whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones who believeth in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Think of all the times we were offended because a brother or sister corrected in hate, bitterness, or weak theology.
I love how that verse above says to “live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” It’s as if when we choose peace instead of shoving personal convictions, God will keep us together as a cohesive body of Christ. When a person is not living in open, blatant, defined-by-God-sin, then we do not need to force our “lifestyle rules” onto others to the point of offending them or breaking fellowship with them. Nor do we need to try and follow everyone’s rules to please everybody. For example, Hacksaw Ridge.
This movie is a true story about a man who loved his country, hated Hitler, and felt a calling to serve in the war. But he also had a religious conviction from God not to touch a firearm. He debated with his superiors, and was almost court-martialed, but by God’s grace he persevered and made it through boot camp without having to back down from his conviction and touch a gun. It amazed me how this man never tried to persuade his comrades to follow in his belief, but instead he held only himself to his conscience and lived his life by the rules God had given him alone. (Spoiler alert!) He then gets shipped off to battle, and it isn’t good. The battle is so intense the entire brigade of men are ordered to retreat, but our hero stays behind. He hid from enemy and friendly fire, lowering wounded down the cliff side one by one. He even lowered down wounded enemy soldiers. Without firing a shot, he saved 75 men. If he had lived by the same conviction as the other soldiers, he would have evacuated too, believing he had done his duty to his fullest. And 75 men would not have made it home.
While God does not give that conviction to all of us, he gave it to one man for a specific purpose. My point is, we are no different. God gives all of us a different ministry and a different life. Our convictions can not all be the same to accomplish diverse tasks. This is why judging and fighting over personal convictions is worthless.
We can stand for a solid belief system without worrying if everyone else is doing the right thing. We can live by deeply formed convictions. We can live our lives in such a powerful, loving way people will ask why we believe it and actually listen! Hog-tying someone, hitting them with a Bible, and demanding they follow our rules is not Biblical, loving, wise, or effective. That’s legalism. Not Grace.
Lately I’ve caught myself judging others, and others judging me, over convictions that are personal and not explicit commands in Scripture. This is so wrong, and it is forbidden because it reaps sorrow and discourse within the church.
1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
There is a huge difference between God’s command for all humanity (the 10 commandments) and a personal, God given conviction (never use a gun.) The commands against fornication, drunkenness, witchcraft, and murder are obvious and clearly expressed. But there is no clear command about celebrating Christmas, wearing certain types of clothing, legalizing marijuana, contemporary music, watching animation movies, or drinking a glass of wine. These are among the hundreds of issues we must use common sense, the Spirit’s leading, and prayer over. Who is to say Jesus will guide us all in the same path? He wont!
We all have different callings. One of us is called to save 75 lives from gunfire and another is called to snipe down the enemy. It doesn’t matter who had the “best” or “most correct” conviction, because God directs every path, and we have only to obey.
“In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.”
Here are five questions to ask yourself before you pass judgement on someone else’s belief system or before you accept someone else’s religious worldview:
- Is there a direct command from God on the subject? Either way, we must pray and ponder. If you are dealing with an ambiguous issue, seek council and study opposing views before accepting it.
- Is this a conviction God wants of me personally? There are many strong arguments out there for not owning a firearm, but does that mean it’s God’s particular will in your life? Ask God if a particular issue is one he needs you to adopt before you gleefully jump on the bandwagon.
- Is the person confronting me directly hurting me, or trying to cross personal boundary lines? Many times, good willed people unwittingly weasel their way into a family and the results is chaos and brokenness because of pushy excitement and unlawful authority. It is okay to set boundaries and protect your family from intruders when the issues at stake are not life altering commandments.
- Is this person toxic or sincerely passionate? It is okay to question a person’s motives. The Bible says, “beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing” because often self-motivated people use Christianity to gain personally. Be wary as you decide on important issues that there are not ulterior motives.
- Have I studied this topic in detail for myself? After you have heard all the facts, take time to study it on your own. Listen to opposing views to see if they can hold up to the same logic.
So how is this important for us as women?
To be honest, we are more vulnerable sometimes than we would like to admit. People will try to put us in their box of convictions, they want to control us. People will tell us to dress extremely modestly, or they will tell us clothing doesn’t matter and we can dress anyway we chose. People will tell us it is sinful to get a career and education, and others will tell us that putting your dreams before a family is more important. People will tell us to live the way God has called them to live. And Satan also has his hand in wayward ideology that sounds good, but can’t hold water when looked at deeper.
Just because a leader says something that sounds spiritually deep, does not give you the luxury of believing it until you have tested it with scripture for yourself. God gave you a mind, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit. So use them to discover what convictions you must follow in your life.
As women, it is vitally important to know our own minds before Christ so we are not easily persuaded. What does he want you to believe about clothing, holidays, dating, college, work, and the endless list thrown at us. We need to protect ourselves, and the greatest weapon you can have is an educated opinion based from the Bible.
Ephesians 6: 11,14-17
“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
P.S. Before someone comments, I want to add this. When it comes to blatant, explicitly written sin, we as Christians need help direct that person back to Jesus in love. Keeping our opinions and convictions to ourselves is one thing, but expressing God’s command is why we are on this earth. We are called to go to all corners of the globe and preach Christ and help the brethren run their race.
“For the son of man was come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11