[forthright] Self-Judgment

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2007 14:01:51 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Field Notes

by Michael E. Brooks

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what
judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with
the measure you use, it will be measured back to
you. And why do you look at the speck in your
brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in
your own eye?" (Matthew 7:1-3).

One may have interesting conversations with
perfect strangers when they are seat-mates on
airplanes, trains, or buses. Enforced proximity
over several hours tends to encourage discussion.
On one flight to Asia I sat beside a rather
prosperous looking individual from that region.
The talk eventually turned to politics and he made
it known that Americans in general were in his
view greedy, dishonest, materialistic, power
hungry –- you name it. "Everyone has his price;
everyone is only interested in himself and his
material benefit." Those may not have been his
exact words, but they definitely were his

Does this description fit many Americans?
Probably. Does it fit all Americans? Definitely
not. Does it fit only Americans? Again, definitely
not. Greed and selfishness are common human
traits, which all struggle against (or at least
should). They are not peculiar to any race,
nationality, class, or age. Those in some
societies have greater opportunity to amass wealth
and power, and to express selfishness and
materialism, but lack of opportunity to express an
attitude does not eliminate it.

Here in America I have had this same kind of
conversation in reverse. Some people tend to
stereotype those who live in distant,
"undeveloped" countries. They may view them as
ignorant, lazy, or incapable of accomplishing the
things done here, or in Europe. Again ignorance
and laziness are not unique to any people or
region. We have plenty of those ourselves.

Jesus recognized all our weaknesses. He reminds us
that we all have them, and that it is not just to
always criticize those of others, while being
complacent about our own. My sin may be far
greater than that of the person I am judging. When
I want to complain about faults, it is best to
begin with my own. When I demonstrate that it is
sin that truly offends me, not some person or
group, then perhaps I will be qualified to help
others deal with it.

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