Written by Jasmine Koh, Singapore
It happens pretty often. Sometimes, it’s a passing judgment; other times, it’s a passing thought that I am more “Christian” than my peers. I don’t deny that I struggle with my own sins, but I would always think that, at the very least, I am better off than someone whose sins seem more apparent, more horrendous—more sinful.
It’s terrible, isn’t it? I call myself a professing Christian, someone who believes that the Gospel is for everyone—yet I find myself stuck with selfish thoughts like these. Sometimes, I’m appalled at myself.
I once passed judgment on a close friend of mine who skipped church one Sunday. She was involved in several ministries in church—youth, worship, audio system, etc. On the Saturday I bumped into her, she told me she was feeling tired and had decided not to go to the Sunday service. The first thought that came to my mind was: I wouldn’t skip church.
I assumed I was in a position to judge because I was busy volunteering with a Christian youth organization, yet I still attended church faithfully and did my Quiet Time, no matter how tired I was.
It took some years before I began to see the ugliness of my thoughts. One day, when I was chatting with a friend of mine, she asked me, “Do you find that the more you grow in your walk with God, the more you realize how wretched a sinner you are? And how much more precious grace becomes?”That was when it struck me: I was that wretched sinner. I was in no position to judge anyone else.
It revealed my wrong understanding of the Gospel. I equated one’s godliness with works—be it church involvement or daily devotions. To me, being “more Christian” meant doing all the right things to show that you’re real and serious about your faith.
Over the years, I had been trying to save myself by doing all the things a good Christian should do. I would fail and come humbled before God. Yet, afterwards, I would again try to be a good Christian through my own works, because I still did not understand how we are corrupt to our very core (Romans 3:12).
What my friend had pointed out was the depravity of humans and our desperate need for Christ. This knowledge of our utter sinfulness should drive us to live with a righteousness that is from God and dependent on Him—not with a righteousness that is from and dependent on ourselves. I am made righteous only through Christ (Gal 2:16, Rom 5:1). And it is only by His righteousness can broken vessels like my friend and I be used for His glory.
In God’s sight, everyone is sinful and everyone needs salvation (Romans 3:23-24). Every Christian’s struggle is different, but what is common is that there is no one perfect and we are all equally undeserving of His grace.
Though I was once quick to judge, I now realize that I am just as unworthy of God’s love. I now recognize my own sin too well to pretend that I am “more righteous” than anyone. Instead, when I struggle or when I see others struggling, I try to remember the grace and mercy God has shown us in Christ. My prayer is to constantly acknowledge my desperate need for an eternal hope.