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Evangelist Billy Graham Reveals How Christians Should Respond to Negative, Judgmental People

( [email protected] ) Jun 02, 2016 12:26 PM EDT
Those who continually judge and criticize others are not only unpleasant to be around, they are also sinning against God and must ask for forgiveness, the Rev. Billy Graham has argued.
Billy Graham, 97, is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Those who continually judge and criticize others are not only unpleasant to be around, they are also sinning against God and must ask for forgiveness, the Rev. Billy Graham has argued.

The 97-year-old evangelical leader shared his thoughts in a Q&A published in the Kansas City Star on Tuesday after a reader asked him how to respond to those who constantly harbor a negative attitude.

"People who are negative about everything and always criticizing everyone are admittedly hard to live with - and sadly, they seldom change," Graham, 97, wrote.

"But they aren't only unpleasant; what they are doing is also a sin in the eyes of God," he added.  

One reason they are committing a sin through their judgmental ways is "because they probably aren't telling the truth, that is, what they're saying about the person they're criticizing often isn't true. Even if partly true, it's not the whole story, and it only brings hurt and conflict."

Those who continually criticize others essentially set "themselves above everyone else and [act] as if they don't have any faults of their own," writes Graham.

"Not only is this wrong, but it's also untrue, and it keeps them from admitting their need for God's forgiveness and help," the evangelist  continues, citing Matthew 7:1,3 which reads: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. ... Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

Graham encourages Christians to pray for those who are overly critical and negative, as it is best to respond to people with love because they "often are hungry for love, and God can use you to demonstrate His love for [them]."

He concludes his message with Romans 12:16,18 which reads: "Live in harmony with one another. ... If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

Billy Graham is one of North Carolina's most famous sons and has made the annual "Most Admired" list a record 58 times.The evangelist grew up in Charlotte and currently resides in Montreat, North Carolina. In addition to advising numerous political leaders, Graham is known for his crusades that brought the gospel to 215 million people, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Just before his 97th birthday, Graham released his final book: "Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond."

Recently, Graham's daughter, Anne Graham-Lotz, revealed that her father's mind is as clear as ever and suggested that God is keeping the elderly evangelist on earth to be an encouragement to those living in the end times.

"I am not sure he is aware so much of the world's situation but his appetite is good, his vital signs are good and I know God is holding him for some reason," Lotz said during the Family Research Council's 2016 "Watchmen on the Wall" conference.

She added that her father's vitality despite his advanced years might have something to do with the Second Coming of Christ.

"I thought it had to do with the Return of Jesus and I won't go there right now, but I wonder also if [my father] is here ... to be an encouragement to you - that there is a man that is still faithful, still has a heart for the Gospel, heart for God, heart for the lost and still prays," she continued. "In fact, he prays in his preaching voice. He is still kicking. Maybe that will encourage you to be faithful through persevering in the ministry to which God has called you."