Have you ever noticed that the guy who is obsessed with someone else’s “sin”, and can’t shut up about it, kind of stands out like a sore thumb? Does it make you wonder if he struggles with the very thing he feels compelled to expose in others as his “Christian” duty? You may not have even been made aware of it but now that he has taken up this daily “soap box” tirade, you really take notice of him, not the ones he feels compelled to judge and draw attention to.
It makes you wonder why he is so obsessed with judging others in their comings and goings and never points out any of his own failings. Could it be that he is harboring secrets, and he thinks if he can point the finger at others enough it will take the focus off of himself? When in actuality it has the opposite effect.
Now, you are looking at him.
Why is he focused on one thing particularly that he considers sin, when sin is sin and there is not one that is worse than the other?
Okay, so now he has your attention; and your irritation. I personally want to run from these types of people. They judge and condemn others with the speck of dust in their eye, without even noticing the telephone pole in his own eye. We all know these people, don’t we? They are the first to throw that rock of condemnation. It reminds me of the guy in the bible who watched a man weep before God in repentance, and he thanked God he wasn’t as sinful as the other man weeping.
Luke 18:10-14 gives us the story:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus warns us about the danger of despising and judging others. Contempt is more than being mean-minded. It springs from the assumption that one is qualified to sit in the seat of judgment and to ascertain who is good and just and who is not.
Pride leads to illusion and self- deception. Humility helps us to see ourselves as we really are and it inclines us to God’s grace and mercy.
I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit (Isaiah 57:15).
I don’t think God can help us if we despise others. Pride in our hearts prevents us from hearing His voice regarding our own issues.
Then there is this story out of Matthew 7.
“Don’t criticize, and then you won’t be criticized.For others will treat you as you treat them.And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own?Should you say, ‘Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t even see because of the board in your own?Hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother.”
Whoa, now that is heavy!!
The bottom line is that only God can see the heart and the reasons behind your actions. No one is equipped to look at someone’s actions and judge why they do what they do. Only God. And He may be doing a work that you know nothing about. When you judge your fellow man you are putting yourself in the place of God in their lives and that is just a dangerous place to be in, I have to tell you.
Living blissfully and pridefully unaware of realities in our own lives that blinds us to ourselves, is no way to live. It may not be fun to assess yourself and face your own sins or shortcomings, but it’s the only way to have a realistic picture of who you are in order to grow for the future. I believe the bigger sin is when we give in to that religious spirit born out of pride and think we are the saviors of the world and can honestly judge the lives of people.
When we assume that people won’t change unless we fix them, as if we ourselves don’t need fixing, we show that our ultimate trust is in ourselves, not God. When we don’t accept people because we don’t believe they will change if we do accept them, we admit that our ultimate confidence is in the conditions we place on our acceptance of them, rather than God.
We need to simply trust God to change others in His time, and if we don’t, we reveal that we think when we shame, intimidate and manipulate people into change that we are greater than God’s transforming spirit.
Do we trust that God is working in the hearts of all people? Or do we really believe that our pointing out their sin and shunning them will truly change them?
Oh how glad I am that Jesus came to set us all free from feeling like we have to do His job. He already did it—He has paid the price for it!! If we focus on Him alone and how to press into true relationship outside religious judgment and pride, we can trust that He will do His work in the innermost hearts of all of us who need His cleansing fire every moment of the day.