You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
Don't you just love it when God gently smacks you upside the head?
You think you've got something learned and don't really struggle with it anymore. And you've also got the framed certificate of achievement hanging on your wall to prove it. Until … you open your mouth.
That was the case for me recently when I judged someone based on their outward appearance at my church.
But before I share that "fun" story with you, let's back up even further than that to a couple of years prior, when someone made a judgmental comment to me in church about someone else's outward appearance.
My church friend said: "You know, the congregation seemed really dead this morning. No one was smiling while they were singing or looking joyful AT ALL."
To which I said: "Yeah, I hear you. But how do you know what's going on in their hearts? Just because they're not raising their hands, doesn't mean they're not praising God on the inside. Right?"
To which the friend then replied: Oh. I guess you're right.
And now, let's come back to the present when just a few weeks ago, it was my turn to point out something …
Here's what I said: Hey, it cracks me up that that guy is wearing shorts and a T-shirt in the church service, while everyone else is wearing dress pants and button-downs. And ESPECIALLY while standing up in front of the congregation during a "ministry moment." TOO funny. Right?
To which my friend said ... [pause] … [crickets chirping] … Yep, that's right. A big fat NOTHING.
So naturally it dawned on me a few days later what I had done. I realized that my friend was probably thinking what I had been thinking a few years prior when I called someone out for being judgmental.
Matthew 7:3 says:
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.
Ouch. Looking back, I can see that I was so focused on what surely looked like a speck in someone else's eye, that I couldn't even see the plank in my own. How did I know what was in the heart of the guy wearing the T-shirt and shorts at my church? Maybe he was wearing the very best that he had. And how wrong of me to assume that he was not!
God judges what lies in each of our hearts. He sees what is truth when he shines the light inside of our lives.
So the next time, before I go looking to point out specks of sawdust in the eyes of others, let my example be a reminder to us all to remember God's kindness in spite of the planks in our own eyes. And may that knowledge lead us to repentance and in turning our hearts back to him.
Intersecting Faith & Life: What's the best way to see the plank in your own eye? A trusted friend or family member (someone who knows you well, loves you and can gently offer constructive criticism) is a good mirror for that. If you really want to know, schedule some time to sit down together and ask what is stuck in your own eye. It might confirm what you already know or you just might be surprised by what is found.
**Listen to the audio/podcast version of this devotional here.