“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at 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,’ and behold, 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 brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

The following are words from Joyce Chadwell without David’s editing.

“It is so easy to find fault with others. A couple of days ago I found a shirt button in my bedroom floor. I wondered why David didn’t tell me he had lost a button. I thought, ‘Now I am going to have to go through all his shirts and see where it belongs.’ I laid the button on my dressing table to put off going through his shirts or asking him why he didn’t tell me he lost a button. I guess I preferred to stew about it. Well, this morning I decided to put on a denim shirt I wore Monday and guess what. It was MY button all the time. When I started to button my shirt there was a missing button and it matches the one on the dressing table. To paraphrase what Jesus said, ‘You should make sure your own shirt has a button before you tackle a closet full of someone else’s shirts,’ or something like that.” (Used by permission.)

Whew! Narrow escape! I would not notice a missing button until I put on a shirt she had washed and ironed! Only then do I say, “Could you fix this shirt?”

Why is it so easy to see others’ faults and flaws and so hard to see our own? May I suggest two reasons. First, as long as I look at you, I do not have to look at me. A focus on your mistakes often means I never have to look at my own. All of us like that! All of us had rather be an expert on others’ flaws rather than dealing with our own flaws. When someone calls attention to our flaws, we are shocked. We are the experts! How could anyone see flaws in us? If such flaws exist, they have a justifying reason for existing—just listen to my reason and you will ignore my flaws!

Second, it is much easier to judge than encourage. Encouragement is just plain hard! It takes gentleness, understanding, and helpfulness. People are so uncooperative and suspicious! “What is in it for you?” “What are you up to?” “What’s your real motive?” What a world—we are more suspicious of kindness than we are of harshness! However, judging is simple. Package it as “constructive criticism” from an “insightful person,” smile, shape opinion into fact, and say anything. The judged should be “grateful” for the “constructive criticism.”

Aren’t you glad God is not a human? Aren’t you glad He continues to “go to the trouble” and “makes the effort” to encourage us in Jesus Christ? God encourages in spite of our flaws and failures (and He truly knows what He is talking about, sees honestly, and accurately understands motives). We, too, should seek to be encouragers because it is godlike, and we wish to be like our spiritual Father who creates us in Jesus Christ.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 24 July 2008

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