Perspective is a lovely hand to hold
We all do stupid things. Such is the way of the human race. Sometimes it’s in the privacy of our own homes where no one is there to judge but God and ourselves. But sometimes our screw-ups are very public and maybe even a little dangerous….especially for those of us who have a tendency to be a show-off. Yes, I am talking about myself right now. I’ll admit it; I like attention and I can be reckless. However, I also have the most guilty of consciences to the point that I can beat myself up all on my own without someone pointing out (and/or judging) my flaws and missteps.
I’m not talking about personality quirks that might get on someone’s nerves but are, in the end, harmless. Leaving dirty underwear on the bedroom floor that your dog unabashedly rolls in or listening to music a little too loud in the house is just part of learning to live with other people. I’d even go so far as to say that people who incessantly complain about those types of mistakes need to get a life because they are probably just as quirky! When I say screw-ups, I mean:
-betraying the confidence of a friend
-cheating on your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse
-cutting off a friend while driving because you’re trying to show-off for some dumb and reckless reason
-lying to avoid punishment
-playing pranks on someone who doesn’t think it’s all that funny
-verbally slamming another person just to build yourself up
-having sex outside of marriage
-arguing with our parents/siblings simply because we disagree with their guidance, advice and/or opinions
This list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure we could all add much more to it, but rehashing past wrongs is not what I’m doing here. Notice these are just momentary lapses in judgment; impulsive decisions that hurt those we love, whether it was intentional or not. And we are all guilty.
So why do we judge each other?
If I can be completely honest for just a moment….most of the things on that list come from personal experience (or should I say personal failings). And it scares me to death that there are kids and young adults in my sphere of influence that view me as some sort of role model. What are they going to think when they see me, a person they want to trust and imitate (though I don’t know why), stumble and fall flat on my face? Especially when my own peers just love to broadcast my flaws. But for what? To take the eyes off their own failures? For personal gratification? Just because they need something or someone to complain about? Let me tell you, no one likes a tattle-tale or a complainer!
Instead of being judgmental, let’s try love. That’s not to say we should gloss over everyone’s mistakes and mess-ups and pretend like everything is okay because it’s probably not. If you’ve been hurt by a friend, don’t keep it to yourself and harbor bitterness or go spreading lies and rumors about the person based off one error in their judgment. Maybe they didn’t even know they hurt you by their actions. Maybe they’ve already realized their mistake, learned from it, and will (hopefully) not repeat it. Instead, check yourself to make sure you’re not just getting worked up over nothing. Then pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the right words. Finally, tell your friend how they hurt you — not with a voice laced in anger and haughtiness — but in a private setting in which you both can be sincere with your words and genuine with your emotions.
Generally, throwing out “you did this” and “you did that” and “you”, “you”, “you” will make the other person defensive to the point they can internally justify their actions because now you’re being the jerk. That’s not talking. That’s placing blame. And in doing so, the accused will be even more alert to all of your flaws, and eager to draw them out, because all of us have skeletons in our closets capable of vindicating the wrongs of those we point the finger at. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). As fallen, sinful humans we have no right to play God, who is so holy and perfect that He had to die in order to save us from eternal damnation.
God is as just as He is loving, and there will be consequences to our actions against one another whether they be immediate and clearly seen or delayed until we’re standing before Him. So I say, let’s not focus on each others’ faults and screw-ups, but rather on who we are in Christ. Romans 8 and Ephesians 2 state it much more clearly than I ever could. Please read those passages, if nothing else. Christ forgave the world of our heinous sins by dying on a cross and rising from the dead in order that we can and should forgive each other, too (Colossians 3:12-17). I pray that we strive to be more Christ-like everyday.
“And you can’t see past the blood on my hands/To see that you’ve been aptly damned to fail and fail again/Cause we’re all guilty of the same things/We think the thoughts whether or not we see them through/And I know that I have been forgiven/I just hope you can forgive me too….” –Relient K, “Forgiven”