The problem is, we normally don’t like anyone looking under our hood, so to speak. We prefer to look under everyone else’s hood. We would rather have a Bible study than have the Bible study us.
I’m not talking about self-examination in the typical navel-gazing way. I’m talking about having a thorough Jesus-inspection. I’m also not talking about confessing all our sins per se. (We have no way of knowing them all anyway!) I’m talking about letting Him heal the deepest and darkest parts of us. Those places where we don’t let anyone in. Those places that make us do the things we don’t like about ourselves. And since He already lives in the middle of our mess anyway, He’s the most qualified to take on such a task!
The reason this is critically important is because if we don’t allow Jesus to penetrate the deepest part of us, we will do great damage to those around us…oftentimes, while thinking we’re doing God a service.
The unexamined life is a major culprit in all relational breakdowns—family, friendships, marriages, church splits, and even driving people away from Jesus.
The unexamined life projects its own issues on to everyone else, seeing others in the image of their own self-reflected selves.
This is never more clear than in how we usually want grace for ourselves when we hurt someone, or do something wrong, but will not give the same grace to others. In fact, it doesn’t even cross our minds. Our blindness to this double-standard continues to amaze me about the human condition.
This human condition leads us to a brilliant teaching of Jesus; one that we don’t really believe…or, at least take seriously.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt.7:1-5 NIV)
I’ve already covered other points about this passage in the following posts:
Receiving grace requires giving grace ourselves…it goes both ways (vs.1). I talked about that in more detail in my post, “Grace goes both ways.”
We will receive exactly the same grace we give (vs.2). I wrote about this in “The truth about grace and truth”.
Why was Jesus telling us these things? So we can tell people, “Hey, don’t judge me!” when they try to speak to us about the baggage in our lives? Hardly. He was telling us that unless we allow Him to examine us, down to the innermost core of who we are, we’re not safe examining anyone else. We won’t have the same heart for them that Jesus has. We will only hurt them and drive them away from Love.
Here are just a few examples what judging looks like in our everyday lives:
Whenever we gossip, tear someone down who hurt us (or who just disagrees with us). To this, Jesus is saying, “It doesn’t matter if it’s the truth…why are you really sharing that?”
Being divisive, causing trouble in order to win allies. Someone hurt us, so we get allies with our friends so they will hate this person too!
Being critical of someone who has a weakness where we have a strength. If we’re thinking, “I would’ve never done it that way“…or saying, “I’ve never have a problem with _____, so they should just get over it!” In other words, because they’re not you, they must be wrong.
Saying someone isn’t saved because of a behavioral weakness (condemnation). We are judging people’s hearts here, which we’re totally unqualified to do. It also smacks of works-righteousness and salvation by good behavior, which is the preferred poisonous mixture of legalists.
This list is not exhaustive, but the common denominator is creating separation caused by our orphan-hearted fear. We must defend ourselves, project ourselves, and be reaffirmed by criticizing and demonizing others. This is just a small piece of the “plank” that Jesus wants to remove from the way we see others.
Jesus is working on making us like children, who are accepting, who allow their hearts to be open to others and are able to love unconditionally. Like the four-year old who said this about love, “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
The reason Jesus tells us not to judge is because other people’s names are still not safe in our mouth. Our love still has conditions. We’re still projecting our own issues on to them and calling it discernment, or just being concerned. This is not a holy endeavor!
This is not a matter of us trusting God; it’s about Him being able to trust us. And walking in grace is not about excusing sinful behavior; it’s about entering into this cooperative process with the Living Word that empowers spiritual self-discovery.
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb.4:12 NASB)
When we’ve been faithfully healed of our own issues and tenderized to the point where we finally see people and treat them like Jesus—having a heart of compassion and humility to restore them and willing to carry their burdens—then we will finally be safe enough to help them with their issues, which fulfills Christ’s law of love.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal.6:1-2 NIV)