Ever have one of those moments where you catch a glimpse of something in your heart that’s just flat out ugly?
Yesterday I was reading an argument online between two Christians. Both of them made some good points and some bad ones. Additionally, they were both angry, personally attacked one another, and came across as self-righteous, judgmental, arrogant jerks.
It felt pretty good to be the one who got it; the one who understood not only the flaws in their arguments but also the flaws in their approach and character. I really felt big because I could recognize their smallness. I felt pretty righteous in contrast to their sin. I felt so mature in contrast to their obvious immaturity. It feels so good to feel like you’re somebody.
Now there’s nothing wrong with disagreements, with spotting flaws in arguments, with noticing poor character when it’s obvious and on display. We would have to stick our heads in the ground to avoid those things. That’s not what was so ugly. Finding my identity in being the judge of other people is what was so hideous. Feeling smug and above it all when faced with the weakness of others – that’s ugly.
Jesus challenges us to not judge, not because there’s no such thing as sound judgment, but because of our tendency to find our identity in comparing our righteousness to the righteousness of others. Whenever I use my perception of my own righteousness as the standard to evaluate others, I have gone down the wrong road. When the righteousness of Christ is the standard, then we all end up on equally shaky ground don’t we?