Self-Judgment

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3).
One may have interesting conversations with perfect strangers when they are seat-mates on airplanes, trains, or buses. Enforced proximity over several hours tends to encourage discussion. On one flight to Asia I sat beside a rather prosperous looking individual from that region. The talk eventually turned to politics and he made it known that Americans in general were in his view greedy, dishonest, materialistic, power hungry –- you name it. “Everyone has his price; everyone is only interested in himself and his material benefit.” Those may not have been his exact words, but they definitely were his sentiments.
Does this description fit many Americans? Probably. Does it fit all Americans? Definitely not. Does it fit only Americans? Again, definitely not. Greed and selfishness are common human traits, which all struggle against (or at least should). They are not peculiar to any race, nationality, class, or age. Those in some societies have greater opportunity to amass wealth and power, and to express selfishness and materialism, but lack of opportunity to express an attitude does not eliminate it.
Here in America I have had this same kind of conversation in reverse. Some people tend to stereotype those who live in distant, “undeveloped” countries. They may view them as ignorant, lazy, or incapable of accomplishing the things done here, or in Europe. Again ignorance and laziness are not unique to any people or region. We have plenty of those ourselves.
Jesus recognized all our weaknesses. He reminds us that we all have them, and that it is not just to always criticize those of others, while being complacent about our own. My sin may be far greater than that of the person I am judging. When I want to complain about faults, it is best to begin with my own. When I demonstrate that it is sin that truly offends me, not some person or group, then perhaps I will be qualified to help others deal with it.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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