I was driving down the interstate the other day, just cruising along minding my own business. Creeping to the top of a hill, two lanes merged into one as I passed the “merge ahead” sign. I turned my left signal on, checked my driver’s side mirror, and drifted before the right lane ended. Courteously, I might add.
Then out of nowhere, a little sports car whipped around me, from the left lane into the right, then barely getting back into the left lane in front of me, before the lane he was in morphed to a gravel-y shoulder.
I gave him a polite, yet ‘I-know-what-you-did-and-I-want-you-to-know-that-I’m-angry-but-not-angry-enough-to-go-road-rage-on-you’ honk of my horn, and shook my head in disgust.
‘That guy was crazy,’ I mumbled through clenched jaws.
But I cooled off.
About .5 mile ahead, I approached a car driving a little slower than I. Quite a bit slower than I, in fact. The speed limit was 65 mph, and he (I tend to assign gender to cars when I get frustrated) was poking along at a measly 52 mph.
Didn’t he know the speed limit? Didn’t he know I was in a hurry? Does he not have any sort of a life, that he has so much time on his hands he can go 13 mph under the speed limit?
I fumed until he turned right, and I could resume my speed of choice.
The hypocrisy of it all
I am, of course, a prototypical hypocrite. I judge people on things I don’t want to be judged on. I hold others responsible for things I don’t hold myself responsible for. I curse you, then turn around and do exactly what I cursed you for.
I’m a big dummy.
Although it’s kind of silly, I think we do this same sort of thing in a lot of areas of life.
* If someone drives faster than we do, they’re a crazy driver.
* If someone drives slower than we do, they’re wasting our time.
* If someone works out (and we don’t), they’re a crazy workout-aholic.
* If someone doesn’t work out (and we do), they’re a lazy bum.
* If someone eats healthy (and we don’t), then they’re a health nut fanatic.
* If someone eats whatever they want (and we eat healthy), then they probably don’t care about their body.
* If someone drives a nice vehicle (and we don’t), then they are probably unwise with their money.
* If someone drives a junker of a vehicle (and we drive something newer), then they probably don’t take care of their stuff. They’re not good stewards of God’s gifts.
* If someone goes to church regularly (and we don’t), then they’re a crazy religious zealot.
* If someone doesn’t go to church regularly (and we do), then they’re a dirty rotten sinner who doesn’t think about God or others.
* If someone watches TV (and you don’t), they probably love to waste their life away.
* If someone doesn’t (and you do), they are just a prude.
* If someone posts consistently on social media (and you don’t), they have no idea how to manage their time.
* If someone doesn’t post (and you do), they don’t understand how people in this generation connect.
We are quick to judge others and slow to judge ourselves. We judge others in hard lines and cut-and-dry terms.
But when we judge ourselves, we judge with grace. We give allowance for busy schedules. For having kids around the house. For having an extra stressful season at work.
We give ourselves a little slack when it comes to the way we handle our money (things are tight right now). The patience, or lack thereof, we have with our kids (they were being overly difficult). Our eating habits (I traveled a lot this month). Our driving habits (we were in a hurry to go to…church).
We’re modern-day Pharisees, casting stones at others and dodging the ones thrown at us. We feel justified in our path as we spit and jeer at others.
Next time you’re tempted to judge, lead with grace. That’s what you do with yourself, isn’t it?
It’s like what Paul hinted at in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:7
Love believes the best, hopes the best, and is able to endure because it chooses love first. It chooses to believe right motives until it hears otherwise. It chooses to position itself like it wants to be positioned, in the seat of grace.
Isn’t that how you want to be judged?
And the crazy part is that God knows us. Fully. Yet still gives us grace. And then more grace. (Re: James 4:6)