Q. I was wondering whether you could shed some light on something for me. Although I know that we all sin many times and it is the grace of God that is our only hope, I have become concerned lately by the lives of Christians in my church. There is a tremendous amount of gossip and backbiting. People have parties where the wine flows freely, and although the Lord has no objection to people drinking, I feel that being drunk and and telling ‘suggestive’ and rude jokes is dishonoring his name. I was under the impression that our changed lives should be our greatest witness. These people work hard for the Lord, doing many good works throughout the church, so why do I feel so uneasy about their behavior? Am I becoming judgmental and legalistic?
A. Whether you’re becoming judgmental and legalistic or not depends on two things. One is the extent to which they’re indulging, and the other is whether what you feel is righteous indignation or the conviction of the Holy Spirit. If their behavior embarrasses you or otherwise makes you uncomfortable then they’re probably going too far. In Ephes. 4:29 Paul said we shouldn’t let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. And in Ephes. 5:4 that there shouldn’t be any obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking.
But if they’re not going too far and you feel bad for being critical and think you might be too “uptight” about it, then it’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit and you need to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness.
Ask the Lord to help you clarify this, and just for good measure ask Him to forgive you in case you’re being judgmental. If you’re not, there’s no harm done, but if you are you’ll feel relieved after confessing.