Man in the Mirror

There is a very popular passage in the Gospel of Matthew about judging others. It’s one of those passages that is so well known that even non-Christians will sometimes quote it. The passage is Matthew 7:1-5.

Here is what it says in the NIV:

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For 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? 4How 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? 5You 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.

It is with deep regret that I must admit to the fact that this is an area that I seem to continuously catch myself failing in. Over and over again, I build up a situation in my own mind in which I begin to judge someone else. In the process, I become angry and frustrated. And typically, for a while, I convince myself that my anger and frustration are justified, that this particular issue is definitely something that another person needs to change and that I’m wholly and entirely absolved.

If it weren’t so shameful to think this way, it might almost be amusing.

The fact is, almost every time I start doing that, almost every time I start thinking that someone else is doing me a grave injustice and that I would never do such a thing to another human being, somewhere along the line, God steps in. It’s quite clever how He does it. He waits until I get myself worked up into quite a mental frenzy, sometimes He may hold off until just after I blow up at whoever I’m angry with.

Then, suddenly, He moves aside the blinders and lets me see that I am doing/have done exactly the same thing I’m condemning someone else for. Sometimes, I do this at the same time as they are doing it to me. Talk about double-standards! Talk about hypocrisy!

In the psychological field, this type of things is often referred to as “projection.” This is where you “project” your own faults onto another person and castigate them for such flaws and weaknesses. Perhaps this is some way in which we can subconsciously condemn the behavior we hate in ourselves, but rather than beat ourselves up it is far more attractive to project this onto someone else and beat them up.

When I look back on times I do this and try to step back and look at it objectively, it seems so obvious. Like when I think my wife is being selfish because I have something I want to do that I don’t get to do and I get angry because I don’t get what I want. (Notice how many times you see “I” there? Who’s really being selfish?)

Or, I particularly like those times when I mentally condemn her for being so judgmental. Well, by doing that, aren’t I acting as judge, jury and executioner all in one?

So, what’s the take away here? I think it’s that when we find ourselves getting angry with someone, we need to take a couple steps back, do our very best to look at our situation objectively and evaluate whether or not we’re exhibiting the very behavior we are condemning in someone else. Are we judging someone for being judgmental? Are we pulling away from someone for being distant? Are we claiming that someone is selfish because they are not meeting our own needs?

In what ways have you found yourself projecting your faults, flaws or weaknesses onto another person and then getting angry or frustrated with them for it?

Grace, love and peace.

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