“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?” (Matthew 7:3)
If you have been reading these posts for any length of time, you will know that I tend to rant against the obsessive addiction that our society has with smartphones. I stand by that. In truth, the reason I rant is because I know how much I struggle with this.
The other night Weezie and I were coming out of a movie when we both pulled out our phones to check a text stream that had come in during the movie. It was a funny stream that included both of us, so we paused as we were reading outside of the theater doors. As we paused, a lady came behind us and asked us to move because we were partially blocking the door. Then, as she walked by, she motioned back to us staring down at her hands, scolding us for being so obsessed with our cell phones. We looked at each other and thought how rude! Then, the irony of it all struck me. I imagined God chuckling in heaven.
I am so quick to judge others who seem to be engrossed in their phones with no understanding whatsoever of their circumstances. Only a few days earlier, I silently judged a couple who sat near me who stared at their phones a full 10 minutes without ever speaking a word to each other. I knew nothing of their situation, but that didn’t stop me from judging them. I give great attention to the speck in others’ eyes, ignoring the plank in my own eyes.
If only this were an isolated experience, then I could move on, but it is not. I usually keep my judgments to myself because I know how distasteful judgmental people can be. Still, internally, I judge those who seem to lack motivation. I judge those who are disorganized, or undisciplined, or overly emotional. When I am honest with myself, I spend far too much of my time in judgment and far too little in compassion.
When I hear Jesus’ words against judging, I understand better now. I cannot handle being the judge. For me, judging always includes an air of superiority. I look down at others’ failings while ignoring my own shortcomings. I also recognize that my judgments lack perspective. Since I am not God, I don’t know all of the circumstances of others’ lives.
I remember reading about Stephen Covey’s experience when he was on a subway with a man and his rambunctious children. After watching the undisciplined children run amuck for too long, Covey spoke judgmentally to the man about disciplining his children. The man looked up dazed. He apologized saying that he was distracted because he had just come from the hospital. His wife had just passed away. Immediately, Covey’s judgment faded as compassion for the man and his children welled up.
Pay attention to all the times you judge those around you in the course of twenty-four hours. Count them and list them. Compare your judgmental spirit to the “sins” of those you judge. I find it interesting that Jesus showed compassion for “sinners” but anger towards those who judged those sinners. I am so glad that God forgives my sin, even the sin of judging.