The Spiritual Gift of Being Judgmental
Matthew 7:1,3 Judge not, that you be not judged… 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?
Here, in perfect metaphor, Jesus so aptly sums up the defect of being critical and judgmental, a defect that is so pervasive in my (our) faith. When I first read this, I thought of 15 people for whom I needed to write a blog entry on the subject. Perhaps I should ask them to read my blog. I just cannot believe how blind they are to being critical. What a bunch of jerks. These thoughts of course, reveal the log in my own eye to which Jesus is referring.
No one likes the person who is condescending and judgmental, all the while, being full of pride. We all hate being judged, yet we almost all engage in this defect of criticizing others. Most of us are excellent at seeing defective behavior in others while remaining blind to our own.
Christianity, I think, lends itself to this. We tend to identify the big sins in which we do not engage, which gives us a false sense of holiness. I do not drink, smoke, commit adultery, steal, murder or worship idols so I’m obviously better than those who do. Jesus reveals our hypocrisy by insisting that anger and lust are sins, just as murder and adultery are. Jesus says that as long as I have bitter, angry or lustful thoughts, I have no right to look down on my neighbor because he or she may be committing worse sins.
The reality is, we all struggle with something. We all have that thing about us that will always disqualify us from the right to be judgmental. If I find myself thinking that I really have got life figured out and thus can be critical of others, I have succumbed to the blinding pride to which Jesus was referring. If I find myself being constantly offended by the stupidity of others (which of course is very real) then I have a colossal log in my own eye.
My problem of course, is that my pride is offended by those whom I see as more prideful than me. I want to tell them how irritating and annoying their pride is. You are so judgmental. Stop being so critical of others and worry about yourself. Which is, I am pretty confident, exactly what Jesus is saying to me.
It is not that I am to pretend that the destructive behavior of others is not destructive. It is that I am to worry about my right behavior before I engage others about their behavior. It is inevitable that I will have to address the destruction of those around me, but there is a vast difference between lovingly engaging in the discussion and being judgmental.
There is of course, a loving way to address destruction and there is a judgmental way to address it. I know the difference, but I usually prefer to be judgmental as it makes me feel better about myself. Jesus says however, that I can only engage in the work of helping others when I am honest about my own defects.