Judgmental, smug, and self righteous are all negative Christian stereotypes we are known for.
If you’ve ever heard a Christian self-righteously say “you are going to Hell!” then you know the source of this judgmental stereotype.
By judgmental, non-Christians usually mean treating them as “condemned”. If you’ve ever heard a Christian self-righteously say “you are going to Hell!” then you know the source of this judgmental stereotype.
Are Other People “More Sinful”?
However, being smug or self righteous also means treating non-believers as “more” sinful than us, and acting morally superior. It’s also judgmental to criticize other people’s beliefs, choices, or conduct, when they don’t reflect OUR beliefs, choices, or conduct. We contribute to this smug or judgmental negative Christian stereotype when we make decisions ABOUT someone without really knowing or caring to know about them.
Here is real story that helps clarify the perspective on Christian judgment:
From “alistarz” on thinkatheist.com
My mom was raised constantly being told that she was a ‘bad person’. I’ve seen the emotional scars it left.
“My grandmother always tried to make me feel bad that my mom didn’t take my brothers and I to church. She would tell me that my mom was a ‘bad person’. Fortunately I was only around my grandmother for a few weeks each summer and on Thanksgiving or Christmas. My mom however was raised constantly being told that she was a ‘bad person’ whenever she did something ‘ungodly.’ I’ve seen the emotional scars it left on my mother.”
The Bible Speaks
God speaks to us about judgment in the Bible on two fronts:
- Judgment of people outside the Christian church
- Judgment of people within the Christian church
God makes it clear that it is His sovereign domain to judge those outside our Christian church family. Translation: don’t judge others…period!
For Insiders – Counsel
For those inside our Christian church, we are to counsel, help, and attempt to correct and grow each other. Judgment is only condoned when one of us is FAR off track and unwilling to repent or correct our behavior after repeated pleas by fellow Christian believers. And even then, having a smug or self righteous attitude is never condoned as acceptable behavior.
Requirements for Judging Rightly
Consider this: To exercise correct judgment, you need the authority to pass down judgment, the power to enforce your judgment, and a comprehensive understanding of the rules, laws, or guidelines that determine right from wrong. You also need the discernment to identify the truth from all perspectives. You need the wisdom to exercise mercy and forgiveness over judgment at the appropriate time and all for the greatest good.
Can you give up judging others and trust that God will judge rightly?
- Who alone can rightly judge? God!
- Can you give up judging others and trust that God will judge rightly?
What We Must Do
None of us are free of sin. To shed the negative Christian stereotype of being “judgmental”, “smug”, or “self righteous”, we need to exercise restraint, discernment, and personal humility. We need to love each other as God commands, and leave the judging to God!