“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?” — Matthew 7:1-3
William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State in Woodrow Wilson’s Cabinet, was one day interviewing a man who was seeking a diplomatic post in China. Bryan was known for the high standards he had for diplomats, so the interview was fairly grueling.
At one point, Bryan warned the applicant that it was necessary to qualify as a linguist. “Can you speak the Chinese language?” he asked. The man was equal to the occasion. Looking Bryan squarely in the eye, he replied, “Try me. Ask me something in Chinese.”
Quite often, the standards we apply to others don’t match the standards we apply to ourselves. Think about how easy it is to be critical of others’ mistakes or shortcomings, but how dismissive you can be of your own, excusing your behavior as a one-time event while judging others’ by letting it define who they are.
The solution to this problem isn’t to stop making moral judgments, but to see those judgments in light of your own behavior. Instead of seeing others through the lenses of their worst moments, give them the benefit of the doubt, taking into consideration how you’ve fallen short in your own life. See others how God wants you to see them—with a heart of love and compassion!
Pray that God would help you see others not through the lenses of their worst moments, but as people He’s called you to love despite their shortcomings.
Questions for thought
Why do you think it’s so easy to judge others for their failures and yet make excuses for yourself?
Can you think of a few people who perhaps you’ve judged unfairly? What would it look like for you to apply this principle to them?