With football over and baseball still months away, I wondered what the national pastime would be during the off season, and then it came to me as I overheard a couple of people talking—pointing out faults in others.
Seriously, where can you go to get away from it and who is immune from participating in it? Sadly, I even find myself caught up in it at times.
Whenever we turn on the television or read the news, we are reminded (by our “public servants”) of the lack of productivity and destructive nature caused by finding fault in one another.
Watch any “reality” program and I’m embarrassed to see how we are portrayed interacting with each other in such harsh and uncaring ways.
Even within team sports where a concerted and cohesive effort is required from everyone to succeed, many are quick to blame and point fingers rather than choosing to unite no matter what the outcome.
If we, as Christians, believe we’re immune to this “sport,” maybe we should ask non-believers why they don’t go to church.
LifeWay Research, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention, asked “un-churched” adults what some of their reasons were for not attending a religious service and seventy-nine percent responded, “Christianity today is more about organized religion than loving God and loving people,” and seventy-two percent said, “Church is ‘full of hypocrites.’”
What a reality check coming from those we should be reaching out to.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?" Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"The man answered, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "Right!" Jesus told him (Luke 10:25-28).
Our “assignment” is pretty simple—love the Lord our God with everything we have and love our neighbor as we do ourselves. How hard is that? We should want to love the One who loved us and blessed us with eternal life, and love on those who don’t yet know about the gift he offers.
However, according to our “jury,” the un-churched, we aren’t doing very well.
It has become almost instinctive and obligatory to point out someone else’s misgivings and drawbacks. Just look at all of the media dedicated to this.
Maybe our newly founded ability to brazenly respond to internet articles and comments, or posts on a social network behind the guise of a screen name and keyboard has emboldened us to believe we have the right to do so.
However, what does finding fault in others do for us anyways? It may divert attention away from ourselves (for the moment), but it doesn’t make us any better, quite the contrary. Yet, that’s what our mind is being filled with and our countenance trained to do by being of the world rather than of the Word.
One of the more popular passages used (or at least inferred to) by non-believers against Christians is Matthew 7:4.
How can you think of saying, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?
The answer is “we can’t,” until we start loving ourselves as we are—made perfectly, exactly as God designed (and unique from everyone else), and embracing and respecting those differences in others (not expecting them to be in your own image).
While traveling the world and meeting thousands of individuals of different faiths, ethnicities, ages and backgrounds I have made an “astonishing” discovery—everyone is more talented and has different experiences than I am in some aspect of life, and I can always learn something new and unique from them. So for me to distinguish some characteristic of them physically, mentally, economically, socially or not of their gifting or strength is not only wrong, but also absurd.
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15).
I wonder how many un-churched “visitors,” who struggled to walk through the doors of a church one Sunday, I have ignored in search of friends or because I judged they were different, instead of seeking to love and make welcome. How many of the seventy-nine percent did I confirm with my actions?
Can we really expect to share the Word of God and how it, and he, has changed our life when we don’t seem to be living it implicitly ourselves?
We need to respect one another as a gift of God with a gift from God. If we continue to practice finding wrong with each other, how do we expect to have strong meaningful relationships for ourselves?
It has been a commonly accepted statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce, most due to financial reasons, many to infidelity and others still as “irreconcilable differences.” I have to believe a universal thread in most of these failed marriages is the propensity of each spouse to point out faults rather than identify and embrace strengths and uniqueness in one another.
Let’s stop wasting our precious time in godless chatter (1 Timothy 6:20) and seek to love one another by recognizing and celebrating each other’s gifts rather than our differences.
If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all — Mom
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.