Monday, February 6, 2012

Lest Ye Be Judged.

Sometimes, even when you mean well, things happen to blow up in your face. Sometimes, when you act out of compassion, people misunderstand it as pride. Sometimes, you just can't help but look like a snob. This happened to me the other day. I don't exactly blame them for accusing me of just rubbing their nose in it, but that's only because we've never had the best rapport. I guess I do tend to look a little bit (or a lot) arrogant sometimes, but I really do mean well. May be it's my method of delivery. (this particular instance could have been the case, but I felt like it was more of a personal bias that incited the backlash.)

I think you run the risk of being labeled a hypocrite when you endeavor to point out an individual's short-comings. It's obvious sometimes, of course, when you happen to be elevating yourself above them in the process, but I find hypocrisy tends to rear it's ugly head even when you mean well. The saddest part is sometimes the individual in need of correction will use scripture against you. I have encountered this a couple times, and most often I find it is the same verse straight of the mouth of Christ: "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is 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 neighbor's eye." Matthew 7:1-5

That verse has always been a little scary to me, and I feel like people often use this verse to justify their actions and to get people off their backs. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this passage isn't about avoiding the threat of hypocrisy by allowing people to do as they please. I believe this passage was meant to give people perspective. We should yearn to correct our brothers and sisters out of compassion and not some misguided idea that we are the ones who will in fact be saving them. To be honest, we are no better than they are. We are no less capable to save any one than they are. Ultimately, final judgment belongs to God. This does not mean we should be deathly afraid of being labeled a hypocrite. We're all a little hypocritical in our own way. Don't let this stop you from correcting a fellow believer, but let it be out of compassion.

And if that was hard to swallow, maybe verse 6 will be even more so:
"Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you." Matthew 7:6

I'm not sure if I have plumbed the depths of this particular verse (I guess that could be my silent disclaimer for all of my scriptural interpretations) but I understand this to mean you can't force correction on some people. Some people just don't want help. Some people just don't want God to change them, or they just aren't ready. I've struggled with that personally. Sometimes I wonder why the things I do aren't inspiring people to have a better relationship with their Creator, and I wonder if I'm just really bad at the whole being a good, Christ-like example thing. May be. But may be it's them too. May be it's not up to me to do the work, and it's God who does the changing. And sometimes, people just don't want to change.


Denise said...

I often think of Matt 7:6 in doing psychotherapy. The mistimed feedback, that is, feedback someone is not able or willing to hear quite yet, is better left unsaid. Often, I have to sorta buy the right to give my input with hours of listening and genuine caring. But, honestly, my preferred method-the one that makes me feel better-is to whack folks with my input, making them feel worse. Unless I can be sure that typical motivation of mine is not in operation, best for me to keep quiet.

Jillian said...

I've always been leery of pointing out shortcomings in an individual unless the individual is a close friend and/or they have specifically asked for my opinion. Usually I'll follow it up with the reasons why I believe whatever I believe.

It's important to remind yourself... this is my opinion. You've formed it from your environment, the Bible, your upbringing, the people you know, the books you've read, etc. Other people don't have the same background and therefore may have different opinions. That's why I think it is so important to state the reasons why you believe something along with the belief.