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My Most Stubborn Sin

Look, I struggle with a few sins and my most stubborn one isn’t very sexy, yet it causes more problems for God and me than any other sin I know. I’m not talking about lust here, or even gluttony, though each is endemic in the Church and I’ve battled both. My greatest sin is judging people. Nothing, absolutely no other sin, has harmed the Church as much as that. It’s why so many people want nothing to do with ‘organized religion’ and consider the term Christian as undesirable today.

Once I became a Christian I felt like I knew how everyone should live and I was often stupid enough to say so. I quickly alienated most people I knew and loved. What’s worse, eventually, none of them wanted anything to do with my new best Friend Jesus?

 Finally, I learned that the inner voice that pointed out everyone’s flaws including my own was from Satan, the ‘accuser’ not Jesus. I also learned to keep my most of my judgments to myself, but I still had them. Gossip is indeed a tasty morsel and in the guise of trying to help I would assail every preacher, Christian and even non-believers to my closest friends, verbally mugging such 'sinners' in secret whenever I found a sympathetic ear. The problem is that when I point a finger at you there are four pointing back at me! Another problem is that we can easily become what we judge. It’s so important that we learn compassion and grace for sinners that if the only way we can learn that is to become a sinner too He'll let us do just that.

 In seminary, my favorite magazine was a sort of Christian Mad Magazine called The Wittenberg Door. Each issue gleefully pointed out the foibles, flaws and fallacies of Christians. Some such believers have perfected the art of character assassination in the name of truth so they devoted one issue to the ‘Theological Coosa Nostra’, those ubiquitous heresy hunters who make an industry out of straining at the theological gnats of others. (Many pastors still think it’s their sacred task to put everyone under their doctrinal microscope.)

 I remember being scandalized, then intrigued, and eventually relieved when I learned that John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard churches, let a Lutheran pastor teach infant baptism in his Sunday school. Wimber apparently trusted his people to read the Bible for themselves, ask their own questions, and allow biblical debate to ferret out the truth. To my surprise I finally learned that God doesn’t need me to defend Him. After all, hardly anyone totally agrees with me nor I with them.

 At my first job in full time ministry I was asked, “Is it more important to love or be right?” I instantly saw how unloving and self-righteous my truth quest really was and how many people it had wounded and alienated. Someone said a sure fire way to make a man an enemy is to tell him he’s wrong. I felt overwhelmed when I saw how many people’s ears I had shut off to God’s good news by my need to be right. Then I found solace in Jesus’ response when Peter cut off the ear of a soldier who came to imprison Him. Jesus reattached the ear. Surely that soldier could never deny who Jesus was! I felt like the Lord was telling me He had similarly replaced many ears I had severed with my scriptural sword.

 Look, we’re commanded not to judge others. I remember a professor who once said “Jesus didn’t say don’t judge, He said don’t be judgmental, and that sums it up pretty well. Few things bring more chaos into our lives and relationships than judgmentalism, yet we love to do it. We’re blind to the grief it brings us and others. Every time I judge someone I give God permission to test how well I live up to my own standards. And truth be told, the things I judge most harshly are tendencies I possess but am temporarily unable to see. God projects my blind spots onto the screens of other people so I can face my own flaws. Once I learned that, I became far more compassionate and recognized whole new areas I needed to heal.

 May He grant us repentance for our judgmentalism in His name. Maybe then the world will again have ears to hear the best news in the universe.

Quotes:  “The more ungodly, unwholesome, and undesirable the person, the more that person felt attracted to Jesus. And the more righteous, self-assured, and desirable the person, the more that person felt threatened by Jesus. Just the opposite of what most people assume! Evangelical Christians hold up the ideal of a balanced, solid citizen who believes in family values and hangs out with the ‘right kind.’ Consider who Jesus hung out with: a prostitute, an unclean man with leprosy, a moral outcast, a Roman centurion, a mixed-race woman with five divorces. Meanwhile the Pharisees – upright citizens who studied the scriptures and scrupulously obeyed the law - the ruling establishment, the pillars of society: all these saw Jesus as a threat.” – Philip Yancey.

“Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” James 4:11b

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.” Romans 14:4


Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at  The Ultimate Breakthrough "
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