“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5, ESV)
“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.” (Romans 2:1, ESV)
One of the hardest things in the world to do is to take an honest look at ourselves and admit what we see. It is so much easier to look at others and proclaim what we perceive about them. We are sinfully inclined to want to place the blame on others. Jesus knew this about us, and, therefore, pointed this out to us in Matthew 7. He also pointed out a good reason not to get so focused on others’ issues: we mess up equally as bad as them (Romans 2:1).
Now…to practice what I am saying here…
Even as I write this, I am tempted to throw out five or six examples of how I see others avoiding responsibility for their own stuff by pointing the finger at someone else. It is so much easier for me to use my ability to analyze things and find mistakes in others. I can nit-pick all day long. However, to do this, I am shrugging off personal responsibility myself. I’m being a hypocrite because I am acting like I have nothing to deal with on my own when I do (Matthew 7:5).
The truth is, I have a lot of imperfections. I mess up all the time. Not only that, sometimes my bad actions come intentionally. When I went into full-time ministry several years ago, the pressure to “look the part of a Christian” came on full force. I have had many fellow Believers tell me they, too, feel pressured to “be a good witness”. In an attempt to do this, many times, I will try to cover up my imperfections. This is the worst thing I can do. Not only am I trying to hide it from others, but from God as well (which is ridiculous, but this is what I do although I know better). Hidden sin is undealt-with sin because I cannot resolve my own sin. The best I can do is strive harder to do better, which I always have and always will fail at (Romans 3:20 shows the only thing that comes from this is more knowledge of my own sin that I cannot resolve). The Gospel explicitly states that I must go to Christ for help with my sin. That requires faith, and faith is not seen in hiding, or trying to look or even do better. For me, it is about being honest with God, myself, and others. When I ponder the connections I have made with some of those I have counseled over the past four years, I realize when I have connected and when I have not. Honest examples of personal issues that God covers in His Grace through Christ have turned out to be a great witness to others. Those examples always point to Christ. Blown up examples of “purity” that I have achieved have been turn-offs because no one can connect with them because they are not honest and real. They do not point to Christ, but to self-effort. Who can connect with a guy who only gives examples of how he gets things right?
Another sneaky way I avoid looking at my own heart is by saying others are judging me by pointing out something I have done wrong. While I may be right in my assessment of the one judging, that, in no way, absolves me of guilt of my own sin. They may be right in what they are seeing in me or they may be wrong, but I have judged others just as they are judging me. So, we are both guilty of the same sin.
In the end, its all about the Gospel: walking by Grace through Faith. To receive God’s Grace, I must trust that Christ is far bigger than any of my mess-ups. He is more than capable of healing my greatest wounds. He is greater than what people may think of me. His love truly is unconditional, not requiring me to do more good things and less bad things. As these truths become reality through experiences with actively trusting Him step by step, it becomes easier to face my sin instead of trying to hide behind others’ sins. At that point, I am capable through Christ of not only receiving God’s Grace by Faith, but in offering it to others as well.