Before Criticizing, Read This Passage!

Posted on February 25, 2020


By David Ettinger

Short Memories
Many Christians have short memories; we forget what we were like before we came to Christ.

I’m like that. Many times when out in public, I’ll pick up on conversations which are “flavored” with saucy language. I’ll often say to myself, What a filthy mouth; I never use such language!

Oh, really? As a Christian, yes, but before I accepted Christ as my Savior, I could sling forth the profanity with the best (or worst) of ’em. Maybe you can say the same? Or if it wasn’t language, perhaps it was booze, drugs, or sex out of marriage?

A Little Too Uppity
Still, we get a little too uppity when around the unsaved, looking down on their crudeness. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in that as believers we should be offended by coarse behavior. Our spirits should be vexed when the godless act … well, godlessly.

I think the real issue is, what do you think of the offenders when they are in the midst of offending your sensitivities? Do you wish for them to suddenly trip and break an ankle? Do you hope they will miraculously go mute – via stroke or heart attack? Or do you say to yourself, That foul-mouthed punk! Wait ’til he’s standing before God on judgment day. We’ll see how cocky he is then! I admit to such thoughts.

Harsh Memory
But then I hearken back to the summer of 1975. I was in a Jewish summer camp in Upstate New York, engaging in a competitive game of tennis. Every time I slammed the ball into the net, I spewed forth a loud expletive which was heard by everyone on the other courts.

Finally, one of the camp’s directors approached me and said, “Ettinger, if you say that word again, I’m going to personally escort you off the court. Watch your mouth!”

In my punkish, disrespectful teen years, I had no respect for this gentleman, but I was definitely cowed by his size – he was a good 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. This was someone I wanted no part of. Despite his girth, however, I couldn’t control my potty mouth. I crashed a backhand into the net, unleashed my favorite four-letter word, and thought to myself, Oops.

I turned to find my giant foe coming at me and I said, “Don’t worry, I’m leaving,” and got myself out of there before he could do it himself!

Important Reminder
The fact that I still recall this episode 45 years later indicates its impact on me. I can only imagine what he thought of me. Perhaps something such as: What a rude, disrespectful, and insolent brat. Can’t imagine him amounting to anything.

Fortunately, the Lord had different ideas. It took 11 years, but He brought me to faith in His Son, and the behavior I exhibited that day in 1975 became but the memory it is today.

All this brings me to this important reminder from the apostle Paul. Not only should we consider our own past discretions before judging the unsaved, but we should remember that God may not be through with the particular offender who is getting under our skin. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (emphasis added):

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

So the next time you’re out in public and some tidbit of vileness reaches your ears, rather than condemn the miscreant, pray for him or her, and ask the Lord to wash, sanctify, and justify that individual “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

I believe this is what He’d have us do.

Tennis, anyone?