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How Should We View Ourselves and Others?
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. - Luke 6:37-38, ESV
Here's a harsh reality about ourselves that we all need to face: We are very quick to make excuses for our own sin, taking into account all of the circumstances and rationalizations we can muster, and we are just as quick to condemn the sins of others, at least the ones that offend us most. The benefit of the doubt we extend so readily to ourselves we rarely extend to others, and the harsh judgment we pass on the failings of others hurts so deeply when others send it back to us in our time of weakness. As human beings, we are constantly judging and condemning one another and just as constantly excusing our own failings.
One of the worst things you can do right now is to quickly agree with the above paragraph and think of all the people you know who fit this description so perfectly: "Oh, yes! I agree. Conservatives are so quick to condemn sexual sins while they excuse their own self-righteousness!" OR "Absolutely right! Those liberals are so quick to condemn people for intolerance, but they're really the most intolerant bunch around."
Stop! Go back and read the harsh reality again. This time refuse to apply it to anyone but yourself: "Yes, this is true. I do this all the time. I pick and choose the sins of my own I will excuse and the sins of others I will condemn. Jesus is talking to me."
Jesus is telling us to extend grace and understanding, patience and forgiveness to others for their sins. Be very slow to condemn anyone. Would you really want someone measuring your life by the same measure you use when you criticize others?
But Jesus then goes on in verses 39-49 to call us to a rigorous level of self-examination. The criticism we are to spare others we should not spare ourselves. We should see our own sin as a log in our eye and see others' sin as mere specks in their eye. We are to see our own inconsistency in calling Jesus "Lord, Lord" while we do not do what we says. Our hearts should be broken by our own hypocrisy bit should also be overflowing with compassion for the weaknesses of others.
We don't do any of this very well. We are much better at jumping on the bandwagon of the critics who are quick to condemn. We are much better at avoiding the hard work of repentance and the even harder work of forgiveness and love. This is why we need Jesus. His grace can change our hearts and give us the love for others that we want others to give us. His Spirit can also give us the strength to hate our own sin and long to see it removed from our lives forever.
[For more, see "The Ways We Judge Each Other"]
Prayer Based on Psalm 112:
I praise You, O Lord!
You greatly bless the man who fears You, Lord,
who greatly delights in Your commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked will perish!
Lord, only Your grace can make me one who fears You,
and only Your grace can cause my heart to delight in Your commands!
Change my heart, O God. Make me more like Jesus, the Righteous One who is never moved.
In Jesus name, Amen.
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