I live in the South where the phrase “bless your heart” can be a warm sentiment or an insult. More often, it’s a pity-filled insult. Whether it’s the lady wearing the worst outfit ever or the man with the over-the-top personality, we notice. Oh yes, we size people up and judge their attitudes and behaviors.
Guilty as charged. In the last hour, I’ve had opinionated thoughts about a local lawyer’s questionable TV ads and someone’s choice of social media posts. Don’t even get me started on people’s driving habits. In that arena, I always have an opinion.
But Paul challenged us in Romans chapter 2 to take a closer look at our swiftness to judge….and a closer look at what we are judging. Check it out:
“….When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things.” Romans 2:1 NLT
While we might be guilty of shaking our heads at questionable outfits, we are probably also guilty of judging others for their actions.
- “She hasn’t been to church in years.”
- “He had an affair.”
- “Did you hear? He embezzled money from his job!”
- “She is such a gossip. You can’t trust her!”
- “Wow. He is so sarcastic. All. The. Time.”
- “She got caught in a lie. It’s not the first time either….”
The truth is it is much easier to tell someone else how to behave than to behave properly ourselves. It’s easier to quote the bible than it is to actually live out its principles. And it’s certainly more fun to point out someone else’s offenses than to deal with our own.
Yet, Paul didn’t mince words. He clearly stated that God will judge ALL of us for our secret lives.
“The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone’s secret life.” Romans 2:16 NLT
YIKES. That put things into perspective. God desires us to be soft-hearted people who aren’t judgemental but are compassionate, patient with others, and kind with our thoughts and words.
And He expects us to turn our pointing fingers back on ourselves. Looking at the list of “judgments” above, we could choose to notice those actions in others but use those moments as a springboard to take an inward look:
- I might be going to church weekly, but how is my personal love relationship with God?
- He might have had an affair, but what am I doing to be the best spouse I can be?
- He embezzled money, but do I take shortcuts with my money? Do I ever take what doesn’t belong to me? Do I steal in small ways?
- She gossips, but do I protect others with my words?
- He is insulting with his sarcasm, but do I proactively encourage others?
- She lies, but am I always honest?
The bottom line, friends, is God is concerned not only with our integrity, but also with our compassion for others. Instead of judging, let’s love. And let’s evaluate our own personal integrity level so that we won’t bear the title of hypocrite.
Here’s our challenge for today: Each time we notice something negative about another person, let’s take an inward look to evaluate if any hypocrisy can be found in our hearts/actions.
This one simple exercise just might be a game changer in our lives!