Judge Yourself First
Your existence will be one marked by transition. Even as I write this I am in transition, and as you read it you will be also. From what you will be transitioning our of and into at any given time is hard to say, but know that you will always be in transition. So since transition itself is a given, it would be wise to be in control of it lest some awful new idea of man, that seems good at the time, leads you astray. I direct you right away to the Bible. Paul tells us not to be conformed to this world, with its lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life, but rather be transformed into Christ likeness by the renewing of our minds. But to conform to this world is to transition also with the world as it meanders through an existence by which the writer of Ecclesiastes calls meaninglessness.
Of particular interest in this letter however is your own sin, and how you look at it, or see it. We humans have a propensity to give ourselves a pass when it comes to our own sin, a pass that we are not so willing to give to others. My mind does not see a particular thing that I’m guilty of in the same light as it see others who are guilty of the same thing. But I’ve been in transition concerning this truth for a long time, and I’ve come to the conclusion that seeing my own sin rightly involves three separate outworkings that are taking place.
First, we live in a world that is self-oriented. What I mean by self-oriented is when one appeals to their inner self as a reference point by which all things are to be judged. If I like something, for example, it is good. If something repulses me, it is bad. With a mindset like this, you can see how my view of my own sin is skewed. The scriptures speak to this mindset by the way. It says that that is “living according to the flesh”.
I would advise you to read all of Roman’s one and two. Paul goes into considerable detail inventorying the sins “they” commit in chapter 1. But pay close attention to chapter two. Notice that he stops directing his words to “them”, and instead directs them to “you”, which means “us”. However harshly we judge “their” sin, know this, it is not nearly as harshly as God judges them, for He is Holy, and we are not. So we ought to judge our own sins in the same light, and in the same way. Seeing the sin of others gives us some perspective. We can begin to get an objective view of how our own sin looks from the outside. And our own sin ought to be more repulsive to us than the sins of others. This will have the effect of keeping us humble, and growing us up in Christ, as we ought to be. This is what Jesus meant, I think, when he instructed us to first remove the log from our own eye. But if we are self-oriented we might be tempted to get this backward. This is done by basing my judgments of things on me. I might assume that logs in eyes must not be bad because if they were I wouldn’t have one in my eye. So since I do have one in my eye, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing, so why in the world would I want to pick the one out of my brother’s eye? That would be backward from the intent of this scripture of course, but it’s how it is most commonly lived out I think. But the goal Jesus had in mind was that both logs and splinters would be removed from everyone’s eyes.
Second, when you see the sins of others, always look at it as through a mirror. See it behind the image in the foreground, which is you. Know that you do things just as bad, or maybe even the same things. This will help you put away any harshness in your heart. The harshness of the truth is plenty sufficient. Be ready to walk alongside any who desire to repent, as you allow others to walk alongside you as you repent. Help the brother in sin, if he desires it. Do not fear rebuking a brother, for it is the loving thing to do. Do not reject the rebuke of your brother for if he does not rebuke you when he ought to, he is not following the great command of loving you. I would suggest you never accuse anyone of judging you, but rather judge yourself. If you feel someone else is judging you, then let the light of their judgements either vindicate or convict you.
Also, when you witness the sins of those outside of the Body of Christ, realize that they cannot not sin. Do not get angry at the individual, but rather have compassion. His only hope of ever seeing himself in the hands of an angry God is through the Gospel. Clothe yourself therefore in the Gospel of Jesus, which calls sinners to repentance of sin, and into the glorious light. Have grace for failures just as you need grace for your own.
Third, Western Civilization is in decline and becoming darker. It is therefore tempting for one to see himself more highly than he ought. You may be tempted, having been cleaned up a little, to compare yourselves to others and then think of yourselves wrongly. The renewing of the mind, however, ought to take us in a different direction and instead focus our sights on Jesus, who is holy and righteous. When we then see our own sin in the light of His holiness grace becomes an amazing thing. Our view of grace is proportional to our view of sin, so see your sin in the proper light so that you will live with a proper attitude of thanksgiving.
I pray for you, that you would transition into warriors, with the accouterments of the warrior. I pray that you would wield God’s word with precision and that God’s armor would protect you as you advance His Kingdom. I pray that you would grow stronger by casting off every sin that entangles by seeing it in the true light that you ought to. I pray for you, I, your father, pray for you that these things will mark you.