I was listening the other day to a student from India who told of a new society they had formed called, “The Society for the Confession of Sins.” I found such a society to be very interesting and thought to myself how difficult it would be to publicly confess your sins to another in this way. But as I continued to listen I found that I as well as the interviewer had misheard what the speaker had said. When the interviewer asked the student if he found it difficult to confess his sins publicly, the student replied, “It is not difficult, for we don’t confess our own sins, but other people’s sins.” “The Society for the Confession of Other People’s Sins” has a very large and, I fear, growing membership throughout the world. But no Christian can belong to it.
The above story would be quite funny if it wasn’t for the fact that many of our names would be found on its membership roles. We are quick to point out the faults of others while turning a blind eye to our own faults. T. S. Eliot wrote, “Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.” Or as a friend of mine once said, “I trust the motives of my wife and children………and possibly a few close friends but the motives of everyone else’s are most definitely subject to intense scrutiny.”
Jesus knew how fast the spirit within man could respond to a situation in a critical manner so he gave us some guidelines worthy of following. In Mathew 7:1-5 Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “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.”
Jesus is saying here that we are divided in the area of our moral judgment or in our being critical of others. You will notice in the above verse that all of our criticalness is directed towards the other person. Jesus is saying center the criticism on yourself and your life will become the standard by which the other man judges himself. If you want to be effective in your responses to others then you must let your life shine to such a degree that others will see it and desire it in their own.
We have to be very careful in our responses to one another or we may be subconsciously flattering ourselves. In our dispensing of condemnation/correction on our brothers we may not just be implying, “How bad he is!” but, “How good I am!” Personally, I have found that I am more critical of others when my own spirituality is spiraling downward. I attempt to justify my own lack of spirituality by pointing out the faults in others and often in direct proportion to my own sorry state. When religious people begin backsliding, they begin backbiting.
In defense of myself you must know I have never been consciously hypocritical. Anymore than the Pharisee believed for one moment that he was a hypocrite. He had said so often that he thanked God he was not as other men that he came to believe it. And isn’t that the dispensing of moral judgments is that we are judging ourselves morally superior than the other person.
If we find ourselves continually sitting in moral judgment of others motives and actions we abandon the most fundamental of Christian values, love. How can we really know what motivates others to do what they do? Because I speak at smaller churches I have at times asked those in the back to come up front where we can all hear and see each other better. Once however, a couple refused to come forward and sat in the back pew while everyone else gathered up front. I wondered about their defiant attitude and lack of co-operation and just judged them as being hard-hearted and having a critical spirit. Once the meeting was over I went over to them and found out just the opposite was true. Because of a medical problem of the husband they felt more comfortable to sit in the back where they could get up and move around if necessary without distracting others. And by the way, they loved the teaching. We are often too limited in our knowledge to judge others. It would be better if we leave that to God alone.
If we succumb to a critical spirit that same spirit will come at us with deadly accuracy. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” If you sow criticism you will reap criticism. Sow love and understanding and you will reap love and understanding. If you want to have a friend you will have to be a friend and that means treating them like you yourself would like to be treated.
The spiritual truth of the matter is this. If we continue to sow in an attitude of criticism, then some day, when life demands of us a positive contribution, we will find ourselves spiritually bankrupt. The sitting in moral judgment on others is the return of the old self-life now clothed in the robes of a moral judge.
When we have a confrontation with an individual we have to be careful that we are not justifying our actions to ourselves so that we do not have to admit guilt and be personally responsible to change. Even when we are in the right we need to be careful that we are not condescending in our response to the other person. No one likes to confront, but running from it or toward it with wrong motives is not what Jesus would want us to do. That is why we must come before a person, in humility, speaking words of life, bringing correction gently and relying on the Spirit of God to guide us in truth and love.
To do what is right is never the easiest of roads to take. When Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” He says to find ‘life’ is by the narrow gate. The way of self-realization is the way of self-renunciation. Deny yourself and you will find yourself. Take the easy way and you will find yourself going through the wide gate that leads to destruction. To change the way you respond is never easy, it requires something from you, but the risk of remaining unchanged, by going the extra mile, is to deny what Jesus has made available for us on the cross. “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4
My friends, if you are tired of the old life then the only thing for you to do is get a new life. A new life means new ways of thinking, new ways of responding to people and having a positive attitude in the face of life’s most difficult situations. It can be done, we can lead a Christ-like life but to do so we must willingly choose to give Jesus Lordship over our lives. As Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
We pray that He will direct your path and keep you in His perfect peace . Much love Always,
(If you enjoyed this article or any of our past articles and know others who may find some benefit from them please pass them along. We also appreciate your letting us know if you enjoyed it as well so either bless us with a comment or hit the ‘like’ button.)