Stop assuming the worst about Joel Osteen

I logged on to Twitter last night to see Joel Osteen getting pilloried over him and his church not doing enough in terms of disaster relief. For those of you who don’t know, Joel is worth $50 million dollars, his church has 16,000 people and the church building is well…huge. Huge as in it is where the NBA’s Houston Rockets used to play.

Listen, I’ve never read a Joel Osteen book. I’m not really a mega-church guy, but that isn’t to say that they do not do plenty of good. I admit, part of me agreed and was like “yeah, why waste this huge church building where there are people in dire need?!?” But the part about this that made me sick to my stomach was just how Twitter turns into an echo chamber of vitriol. I’m just going to throw this out these thoughts out there and you can tear me apart if you want to… but you say Joel should be more Christian, well in saying he should be more Christian you’re out there casting the first stone, judging him and saying things that you really don’t know for sure about. You’re not living by the standard  you say he should be living by.

Just because he hasn’t taken to social media, blown the trumpet in the streets and said that he’s gonna give a big amount to Harvey relief doesn’t mean that he has not done so. Jesus said in Matthew 6:

“Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”

While it’s good to do good works and share with others what you’re doing in order to encourage them to follow your example, I can’t help but to think that *some* of this “hey, look how generous I am and how much I’m going to give” that we’re seeing Pharisaical trumpet blowing. Some of it is people caring more about being seen as generous and wanting human praise than actually caring about giving. To be clear, I’m assuming that most of the time that is not the case. 99% of the response seems to be really amazing and I’m thankful for it.

Anyway, and I know this isn’t going to be popular, but doesn’t Romans 2:1 say that those who judge others are guilty of the same thing?:

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

Instead of pointing fingers at Osteen, ask yourself this question: “Am I guilty of the same thing? What percentage of my income do I give away? What have I done to help the people in Houston?” Or if you’re like me and you lived in Eastern Iowa during the flood, ask yourself, “what have I done in order to help others? Did I open my home to displaced people? Did I spend my time sandbagging or helping my neighbors out?”

I truthfully, to my own shame, wish I could say I did more during that time. But if you can say that you opened your home, or paid for someone to be put up in a hotel, or went out of your way to help someone, then great. You have a better perspective. So instead of jumping on Osteen with all the snark you can muster in 140 characters, maybe kindly shoot an email to the church and say “hey, you have this huge building…is there any reason it can’t be used? Maybe you’re already making plans and I don’t know it, but is there anything I can donate in order for you to help these people?” Quoting Jesus again:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

I’d hate to be judged by my own standard, and I’m not gonna say I see the situation as clearly as I should. So rather than lobbing verbal grenades at others because of what they are not doing, or appear to not be doing, let’s focus on our own responsibility to our neighbors in Houston.