Four Back at Ya
by Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Entertainment Editor
Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.
Romans 2:1, The Message
"When a man points his finger at someone, he'd better remember he has four fingers pointing at himself."
Noted American trial lawyer Louis Nizer once said that. And I'm sure your parents, a teacher or another influential elder or mentor also echoed the same type of sentiment at some point in your life, too.
Kind of irritates the fool out of you, though, doesn't it? Because it's true.
It's thoughts of judgment and criticism that probably clog my noggin the most as I grow older. With age comes wisdom, yes. But I'm also finding that a lot of hypocritical and holier-than-thou thinking accompanies it, too.
"I can't believe she did that."
"What WAS he thinking?"
"I would never do that!"
"She said WHAT?"
"Well, at least I'm not as bad as him."
Do thoughts like these plague you as well? Sadly, pointing my finger like this comes as naturally to me as breathing. But before Nizer's nifty little finger-pointing quote, we had the ultimate lesson in throwing stones from Jesus.
In John 8:1-11 (NIV), an adultress was brought before Jesus:
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using the question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
So what does this mean? Did Jesus just let this woman off the hook? I used to think so. But on a closer read, I see that he does rebuke her for her actions. And then he charges her to change her life and sin no more.
He gives her hope for a new way of living! It's grace-the wonderful, matchless grace of Jesus. Only he is blameless. Only he is greater than our sin. And only he is qualified to be our Judge, because only he can offer us forgiveness.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Merriam-Webster's says that a judge is "one who judges ... one who gives an authoritative opinion ... a critic." Are you an authority on those you judge? Do you know what's happening in their hearts? Ask the Lord to help you release your grip on critical thinking and turn it into a prayer for whomever you are judging today.