Thursday, September 18, 2014

How do we judge?

"And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck out of your eye; and look, a plank is 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 7:3-5

It is easy to feel that we are not among those who harm people with judgmental spirits, attitudes or words.  It may help us to look at some of the ways we may judge without being aware of it.

How do we judge?

  • With Our Eyes - A haughty look of disdain may speak louder than our words.  Raised eyebrows and a hard glare can certainly communicate judgment.
  • With Our Lips - Gossip - It usually begins with "Have you heard?" or "Did you know?" followed by "I can't believe..." when gossip occurs.  Being aware that we are being led into judgmental action can stop us from participating in gossip.
  • With Our Mind - Jumping to conclusions is one exercise that we need to avoid.  We are meaning-making creatures.  Without any conscious effort, we make meaning of or interpret what we observe or experience.  Avoiding interpretation is difficult because our brains function to a large extent outside our awareness, just like our breathing. This means that we don't actually jump to conclusions, as if we start here and end up there. Rather, we take in input from the outer world and immediately interpret. 
    As a result, not jumping to conclusions is exceedingly difficult since most of our interpreting takes place outside our awareness.  A lot of frayed nerves and ruffled feathers occur because people misinterpret each other's words and actions, and they act on the basis of those misinterpretations.  They rarely stop to ponder whether there might be more to the situation than they realize.  Therefore, it makes sense that, having made an interpretation, we ought occasionally to pause for a moment and question it.  Perhaps we have a responsibility to try harder to challenge our evaluations and interpretations of another’s actions..

Hypocrite vs. Helper

In the verses above, the Lord gives us a humorous, but brilliant illustration of the problem with judging other people. He speaks of a person trying to remove a splinter out of one person's eye when he has a plank in his own eye.  "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye..." (v.5a)

As long as there are benefits (praise, political, financial, etc) for being seen as a Christian there will be hypocrites in the church. Only persecution and suffering seems to root them out.

In psychology, hypocritical behavior is closely related to the fundamental attribution error: Individuals are more likely to explain their own actions by their environment, yet they attribute the actions of others to 'innate characteristics', thus leading towards judging others while justifying ones' own actions.  Without exception, every church has "speck inspectors" or "splinter specialists."  They are part of a secret organization called the FBI-The Fundamentalist's Bureau of Investigation. They love to find fault with other people.

Is it not true that there is just a natural tendency to see our faults with a telescope, while we look at other's faults with a microscope? That is why so often your faults look so much bigger than mine to me, and my faults look so much bigger than yours to you.  Looking at others from our strengths to their weaknesses causes us to believe they could do better if they tried.  Jesus reminded us that we would do well to deal with our own sin and leave other’s sin to Him.

Scripture to Claim:
But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.  Galatians 6:4

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