You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1As I studied for this sermon I stumbled upon a psychology term called projection. The people Paul is addressing were passing judgment on others to make themselves feel better. Paul uncovers a common human shortcoming, namely our tendency to be critical of everybody except ourselves. Think about it, we have a keen ability to point out in others the faults we see in ourselves in ourselves. We expose the shortcomings of others while concealing our own similar shortcomings. This tendency was made popular in 20th century psychology by Freud and is called “projection”, but we see that Paul described it centuries before.
It reminds me of an encounter that occurred between the king of Israel and the prophet Nathan in the Old Testament. Nathan came to King David and shared a short story about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had a huge farm and tons of livestock, but the poor man had only one little sheep and this sheep was like a member of the family to him. The rich man had a guest in town, but he didn’t want to turn any of his cows into hamburger so he went to the poor man and forcefully took his only sheep for his guest’s dinner. David burned with anger and instantly condemned the man. Then Nathan extended a pointed finger at David’s chest and revealed to him that he, David, was the rich man in the story. You see, David committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband to cover up his sin, but he was so very quick to judge the other man in the fictional story.
Bring it to our lives. I find that I am more likely to find fault with my children for things I struggle with myself than for issues I don’t tend to struggle with. Let me give you an example. One of my daughters is constantly saying, “I want.” When she says this I get upset, but each time these words leave her mouth I get increasingly upset. As I’ve examined this I’ve realized the failure lies within me. My disgust with my daughter’s words is a direct reflection of my own selfishness. She hears me say, “I want a new iPhone,” “I want a new GoPro.” I am the hypocrite. I am condemning my daughter for my failure!
Its interesting that we are far quicker to judge others than we are to judge ourselves, and by doing so we condemn ourselves! So if I just leave it here basically it sounds like this, "We suck and there is nothing we can do."
But that's not it. The problem is a deep heart issue and we need to address it. The first part is to identify the issue so we can address it. This week will you take time to identify an area where you are critical of others but give yourself slack. Once you find that area take time to work on improving and being less judgmental.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2