BY SHARON VAN ARNEMAN
It was Robert Louis Stevenson who said: “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us; that it behoves all of us, not to talk about the rest of us.”
Isn’t it funny how blind we so often are to our personal weaknesses and shortcomings, but yet are so ready to condemn every little flaw we detect in someone else? I know there have been times that I’ve been guilty of judging things prematurely – times when I’ve wanted to make my personal experiences the standard that others should live by.
The bottom line is that it is painless for us to take apart another person, inspect every strength and weakness and then pass judgment – not because the person is outright sinning or going against God’s laws; but just because their choices don’t align with our own personal preferences. But that should never be our focus. What we should instead concern ourselves with is to examine and judge our own selves. Few of us, however, have the guts to give ourselves the same degree of scrutiny that we give to others, because the truth is that self-examination could be a very painful process.
When we begin to realise that all the pride and hypocrisy and inconsistencies we so quickly identify in others are also buried deep within the crevices of our own hearts, we will be a lot slower to judge others. It is actually quite peculiar how we judge people: Those we like are perfect to us; we see them as sweet and wonderful people in every way. But those, whom we do not like, are just plain bad in our books – we see them as evil and disgusting, and if we could just have it our way, we would make sure that no one liked them or became friends with them.
Now it is true that all of us have had those times when, because of the intervention of someone who cared enough to confront us, we were spared some awful pain or regret. But while we should never resent the person looking out for our best interest, we would all do well to watch out for that subtle spirit of self-righteousness when we do decide to take on the role of advisor or counsellor to someone else. I have discovered that pride can creep up on us, giving us a false sense of superiority that deceives us into believing that we are somehow better than the other person – because if we are not careful, we could find ourselves guilty of the same thing we had condemned.
It is true that only God is capable of perfect judgment. He created us and has intimate knowledge of each one of us. He knows how we are wired; He knows how we think and why we think the way we think. He knows how we respond to things; how we analyse things; how we process things to reach our own unique conclusions, and He alone knows everything about everyone and every situation. So when it comes to passing judgment on others, we can’t go wrong to remind ourselves that only God can be God.
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