Recent political and social interactions have me thinking: God help me if I ever ran for president and all my ugly came out. Our leadership is vetted such that they are fit to run for office, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t committed personal indiscretions. Probably some they deeply regret. Who among us hasn’t?
We (self-included) are so quick to judge, are we not? I remember from my early Psych 101 days learning that human beings tend to view things in this light: when something bad happens to someone else, we attribute the events to their personal shortcomings and character flaws; when something bad happens to us however, it is a result of our unfortunate circumstances – something done to us. We are ego-centric things by nature. It takes much brain – and heart – power to think any other way.
But what if we did?
What if we could, for a moment, really try to put ourselves in another’s proverbial shoes? What if we could imagine the circumstances and worldview that brought them to and through where they are today? What if we could do this considering where we ourselves have come from? Digging deeper…could there even possibly be a time when we have behaved or spoken in a similar manner – or worse? Deeper still…maybe we can be pious and say we have never done “such a thing!”…but, in our heart of hearts, if we’re honest, have we ever thought it?
You’ve heard the old adage: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Jesus said something similar. When a woman was caught in the act of adultery (never mind that a man was there as well!) and the throngs that caught her in this detestable act wanted to see her brought to justice for her scandalous behavior (nothing more than the fair and acceptable punishment of the day: public stoning), Jesus replied to the masses with these words, “…Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
No stones were thrown that day.
When faced with the challenge of evaluating their own lives, this crowd came to see that they should not be so quick to pass judgement without first searching themselves.
Have you ever regretted something you’ve said or done? Have you ever offended someone? Have you ever made a rash decision or come to a too-quick conclusion?
Have you ever wished you could take it back? Wished for forgiveness (even when you didn’t ask for it or deserve it)? Wished that someone would offer you mercy instead of justice?
O God, help us to be kind to one another. Help us to have patience with one another. Help us to offer forgiveness, patience and even, the benefit of the doubt. Help us to look critically at ourselves before pointing a finger at someone else. Deal with each of us in Your merciful way as You show us who we truly are. Amen.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly
to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7: 1-5