I used to think outrageous opinions were peculiar to broadcast news commentators, a way to capture and hold high ratings in the highly competitive world of electronic media. Lately, though, I’ve noticed how often these provocative comments come from the mouths of everyday people in the most convivial settings, such as the Sunday morning coffee break at church. Some examples:

  • “He’s a tolerant man. I don’t know anyone else who could put up with a wife like her.”
  • “That guy has no business being pastor of a church. He doesn’t know how to handle money.”
  • “They should’ve known not to assign her to that ministry. She’s just got wanderlust.”

I’m not so naïve as to think that we church folks check our opinions at the door. If we hold strong views Monday through Saturday, we’ll no doubt bring them along on Sunday morning. My question is, Why should we hold such biased (shall I say judgmental?) views of other people at all? Don’t they taint the way we deal with one another?

While broadcast news commentators have made character assassination a staple of everyday conversation, it’s been a human foible since the days of Eden. (“This woman you gave me–she made me do it,” Adam said, meaning, “The two of you are responsible for this mess!”) So this is a plea, not to ignore obnoxious or inept behavior, but to recognize that we share the blame for it. It’s another manifestation of our universal culpability. The shrewish wife becomes so, at least partly, because we don’t question her when she takes advantage of her husband. The incompetent or unfaithful church leader gets set in those ways because we don’t counsel them otherwise.

So before we join a Greek chorus of naysayers and fault-finders, let’s examine ourselves and ask the Lord to do the same. “See if there be any offensive way in me,” the Psalmist prayed, “and lead me in the way everlasting.” Amen.