—In your family, or among friends or acquaintances—are you thinking somebody’s not doing the right thing, or making the right life choices? Are you being judged yourself?
In the Bible, Jesus used strong words to defend minor breaches in Mosaic law: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And he provided some great examples. On one occasion he said boldly: “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Matt. 7:3–5, New Living Translation).
The message is clear: Be aware of your own failings before you judge anyone else. If you do this, you’ll be brought to a point of humility where you won’t be so quick to jump on another’s shortcomings. Often we do this to make ourselves look better. But if we hold to a standard of perfection set by God, we won’t have to compare ourselves with others to validate ourselves. Right judgment stems from the way we see ourselves in relation to God. If we see ourselves as God’s loved children—already whole and perfect—then we must see others in the same way.
This doesn’t mean we gloss over another’s dubious behavior. We are required to see the speck in our neighbor’s eye. But our duty then is to help remove it prayerfully—with love, compassion, and a deeper understanding of our shared relationship with God. Sometimes, for example, in our roles as parent or teacher, friend or colleague, it’s important to honestly, frankly, and lovingly address mistakes and take a stand for what is right, so that those mistakes won’t be repeated in the future.