The self-justifying, detached judge in us all (The Cost of Disicpleship 18)

There is nothing quite as painful as being the target of judgmental criticism. Despite the pain it brings, I am amazed at how quick we are to deliver it. It is funny that I was going to write about a recent time I faced judgmental criticism. I was going to tell you about a guy who was out to get me and I didn’t know why. I was in a vulnerable position and needed help but got stepped on.
But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was going to judgmentally criticize this man in an attempt to talk about the evils of judgmental criticism. For a moment, I felt justified to do it. And then I really thought about Matthew 7 and how Bonhoeffer approached the teachings of Jesus.
One of the cruelest things about judging others is that the one who judges does not care about the damage they do. They have a kind of self-righteous piety that claims to be interested in truth, but judgmental criticism is nothing like that. Bonhoeffer exposes the cruelty of judging when he says, “When we judge other people we confront them in a spirit of detachment, observing and reflecting from the outside…Judgment is the forbidden objectification of the other person that destroys single-minded love.”
Still, we want to argue. We want to say that we are looking out for the standard of righteousness. We want to confront evil. Bonhoeffer is on to us and says, “If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for the evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts.” Then he exposes our motive, “If we are on the look-out for evil in others, our real motive is obviously to justify ourselves.”
The next time we think we are so religious and helpful in removing specks from the eyes of others, we ought to first take a look in the mirror and see if there is a log in our own eye.


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