December 12, 2010

To Live is Christ — helping fellow travelers

Finger-pointing is easy. I’ve done it for various reasons. Foremost is the selfish notion that if others look bad, then I will look better, forgetting that putting down someone else makes me look bad too.

Sometimes it’s revenge. The other person has hurt me and I’m going to get even by taking a swat at them. This doesn’t work either.

Another motivation is frustration because whatever is wrong with them is interfering with a personal agenda or even progress in church growth. Regardless of the reasons, I’ve forgotten that I’m to help people grow and get on board, not critically judge them.

My devotional guide takes me to these verses to study this week. I sense conviction and soul-searching lies ahead . . . 

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log 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 7:1–5)
The word “judge” here is judge/condemn, not judge/discern/evaluate. It is a critical determination that isn’t thinking about fixing the problem, only pointing it out to God or others, and using it to put that person lower than I am (on some sort of scale that I’ve independently determined). As soon as I do it, I come under the same sort of condemnation.

God is not my servant. He may give me discernment into the failings of others OR I could be imagining things. Either way, it is not my place to pronounce a verdict and expect Him to jump right to it. Instead, when I do that, He becomes intently interested in fixing MY problem, not the problems of those I criticize.

The first thing is checking in the mirror. As my mother says, when I point a finger, I must not forget that there are three pointing back at me. Am I seeing something in others that is true about me? Does their so-called shortcoming irk me because I don’t like it in myself? Is what I see in them God’s way of convicting me about the same problem in my own life?

The point isn’t that I’m to stay away from discerning and helping others with difficulties. The point is that I avoid doing it with condemnation in mind. I need to check my own life first. Christians are supposed to help one another get back on track when we stumble — being careful we don’t trip and fall ourselves. 

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
All of us walk the same road, face the same temptations, struggle with similar sins and our selfish natures. None of us can do this alone. We need to help each other with the right attitude.

Being critical isn’t helpful. Instead, it is like throwing more stumbling blocks in the path of others who have tripped and fallen — without realizing that I’ve also tripped and am down on my face alongside them.

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