Over the last two days, we have been discussing the complicated and seemingly contradictory instructions the Bible gives about judging others. We saw how we seem to be called not to judge, yet we are also called to judge. The major component that helps us determine whether to judge is looking at the heart of both the judger and the judged.
As we discussed yesterday, the Bible calls us to correct our children … to pick elders and church leaders … to vote for Godly leaders in government … to be a third party helping to settle a dispute between two brothers. So again, the permission to judge rests in the motivating engine of your heart. We all need to examine what drives our judgments of other people.
God does not call us to condemn, shame, mock or belittle others. Neither are we called to exalt ourselves. On the contrary, our attitude needs to be one of compassion, love, service, and encouragement to others. We are to be a lighthouse and a mouthpiece, directing others to God and His Word.
Another important issue in judging others is understanding our own motivation. Our motivation needs to resonate with and reflect God’s ways. In today’s scripture, Jesus describes a type of hypocrisy most of us have perpetrated and experienced. We are quick to judge and even condemn others, but avoid examining our own lives. That’s because we are often guilty of the same infraction or share the same core rejection of God’s instruction. Often, our sins actually surpass theirs.
Self-assessment, evaluation, and reflection are so difficult for us. Humility, truly humbling ourselves, is so difficult for all of us. Looking at our weaknesses and mistakes is hard work. Who wants to dredge up that crud again, and relive it as we examine it? We look for any excuse to avoid this important and necessary task for growth. Focusing on someone else’s failures and blowing them out of proportion makes me look better and take the spotlight off me and points it on them.
Jesus says that before we can help others, we need to look at our own lives. Are we involved in wrongdoing that clouds our wisdom and hampers our ability to assess and help others? Our sin, baggage, and issues can distort our perceptions of their conduct. We might even wrongly judge them. We could then give poor counsel as our issues bleed into our Biblical objectivity.
Not having our own houses in order also undermines our credibility as we speak into their lives. Why would someone listen to or believe my assessment when my own life is filled with sin, dysfunction, and blind spots? What expertise or wisdom can I really share with others if I can’t identify and address the struggles that hinder my own walk with God?
The ability to look closely at our own stuff and address it is a pretty good indicator of our level of humility … or lack thereof. Low humility indicates high pride, which doesn’t help us speak into another’s life with Godliness. Finally, our dysfunction and sin hinder our prayers for others.
Today, sit down and identify areas in your life that are broken or off-track. You know what they are. As Jesus teaches, get the plank out of your own eye. Only then will you see clearly enough to help your friends. But most importantly, cleaning up your own walk dramatically increases your relationship with God and your credibility as you speak to others about their problems. Have you performed an eye exam on yourself lately? Like me, you are probably overdue! Examining your heart is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I know I am sometimes quick to judge … and to condemn. Please forgive me. I know I get hypocritical at times, picking on others when I am struggling. Give me the courage to allow Your Holy Spirit to search me, teach me, and empower me to heal and transform my weaknesses. Thank You for allowing me to use what You taught me about myself, to help others grow. Grow in me a heart of compassion and not hypocrisy. Help me to extend the same grace to them that You have abundantly extended to me. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the best mirror for my eye exam, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
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? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5