Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye (Matthew 7:3 NLT)?
Friend to Friend
I shook the evidence of an addiction in front of a loved one’s face. In my fearful pursuit of confirmation, I weaponized the facts with cutting words and unkind opinions. While I had a right to be angry about the situation, I was completely wrong in how I addressed the struggle. Like a vengeful judge, I banged a self-righteous gavel atop my loved one’s heart until I felt like I’d gotten my point across. While I repented and apologized later, God used that terrible day to convict my heart of prejudicial thoughts and behaviors that often led to judging and thinking poorly of others.
God never calls us to give unconditional approval of sinful behavior. Yet harboring or communicating harsh judgmental thoughts or opinions prevents us from obeying God’s command to love others unconditionally. When we’re judging others, we’re usually not praying lovingly for them. However, isn’t it prayer that invites God’s Holy Spirit to do the convicting and transforming supernatural work in someone’s life?
Today’s Truth records Jesus’ pointed question to religious leaders, who delighted in pointing out where others had failed in their faith or with God. The problem is that the religious leaders didn’t see that their judgment was their self-condemnation. Jesus warned them that whatever little speck of shortcoming they pointed out in others was nothing compared to their massive flaws and failures.
It’s so much easier to see others’ struggles or sin than it is to see our own. We often escalate other’s shortcomings, but we eagerly give ourselves a free pass on our own mess. As Walt Whitman soberly observes, “We all have a blind spot…, shaped exactly like us.”
The bottom line of Jesus’ words in Today’s Truth is that we’ve got enough sin and shortcomings in our own lives to keep us busy and out of other people’s business. Letting go of judging others means that we stop scrutinizing others’ lives and start keeping the focus on ourselves. For you, this may mean letting go of your efforts to control others’ behavior through shaming words or threats and choosing to pray the power God’s Spirit to be alive at work in the lives of the people around you. When it comes to other people’s lives, God’s role is to lead them and your role is to love them.
Let’s get practical! Here are three next steps that you can use today if you need to let go of judging or thinking negatively of others:
- Be curious, not judgmental.
Asking questions like, “Tell me what’s hard about this for you?” create an opportunity for understanding and compassion. When you understand more about where people come from and what they’ve been through, you can begin to see them as God sees them.
- Respond instead of reacting.
When someone does something you don’t agree with, don’t voice your gut reaction. Give God some space to work on your initial reaction before you respond. Here are some phrases that convey you care without passing judgment:
You are important to me, so I will be praying.
Thank you for sharing that with me.
I trust that you will figure this out.
I love you and want God’s best for you.
Note: When you feel God’s prompting to address someone’s sin or struggle, take a step back to pray. This allows God to shape your words, rather than speaking out of your own self-interest, self-righteousness, or fear.
- “Keep your eyes on your own hula-hoop.”
Playing hula-hoop takes a lot of concentration. Just as you can’t help someone else hula and keep yours up at the same time, you can’t fix someone else’s life because you’ve got enough work trying to navigate your own. Prioritize your own self-examination and prayer. As you humbly acknowledge your shortcomings before God, you’ll be less likely to beat others over the head with your personal measuring stick.
Dear God, I don’t want to wreck my relationships over trying to be right. Open my eyes to the planks in my eyes that I’ve been ignoring. Help me to break the habit of judging others so I can love people as You do.
In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
When do you fight to be right? Why is being right so important to you?
How can you keep your eyes on your own hula-hoop today?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s content is from Barb’s recent devotional book, Surrendered: 40 Days to Help You Let Go and Live Like Jesus. This 40-day devotional invites you to let go of trying to control others or outcomes and learn how to live like Jesus. Learn how to trust God’s power, presence, promises and provision for your life so that you experience God’s peace no matter what’s happening in your life.
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©2022 by Barb Roose. All rights reserved.
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