Thursday, July 01, 2010

Judging One's Self

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:3

I find this verse very interesting this morning. I've been thinking a lot on how I think of random people. You know, you see that lady in the grocery store who is a lot overweight- and her cart is full of unhealthy food. What do you think? That if she shopped smarter she could lose weight. You see that car zipping in and out of traffic a little ways in front of you and you think about how that person is an idiot. You see a girl at the pool with more tattoos than skin- including her face- and you wonder what on earth is wrong with her that she would tattoo her face. It's all the process of judging other people by your own standards- which the Bible says is clearly wrong.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. " Matthew 7:1

Who am I to think that I am any better than any of these people? And yet the judging happens over and over again. So over the last few days I've been trying to stop myself from doing so. I'm not always successful, but I am trying. So when I turn on my computer this morning and see a verse about judging myself- it's almost like a throw up your hands moment. You're kidding right? Here I am trying really hard not to be judgmental, but I'm supposed to judge myself? I can't win!

But then I read this verse a few times and try to figure out what it's saying to me today, and I start thinking about thinking highly of myself. What does that entail? Well, for me, I almost think that when I think highly of myself- I get confident. I think of those days where I really do a good job putting a new outfit together- I have my hair styled just so in a way that's flattering to me- and I have my make-up tastefully done. My shoes and my purse match and I'm just put together well. On those rare days, I walk around with confidence, I walk into a store with my head held high because I know I look good. I am confident in who I am, and I feel good about myself. On the days where I go out dressed just so or just normally, I don't give any thought to how I look or how I feel. I'm there to get a task done- however I'm dressed- I'm focused on my task- getting in and out of the store with what I need- how I feel about myself is irrelevant.

Now lets take that scenario and flip-flop it to a spiritual side. When I am spiritually confident, I may very well walk around with a confident air. More than that though, I may think that I have finally arrived- I am where God wants me to be, and I feel good about myself and feel good about where I am. Only, the thing is, as Christians, we never will "arrive". We will never get to the point where we are as Christ-like as we are going to get- we are always going to be able to strive for more- to seek God for more, and to do better each and every day. When I judge myself appropriately, I can see that those days of confidence- those days of feeling really great about where I am spiritually - are days where I need to be knocked down a notch or two. I am judging myself too highly on those days. I need to be more mindful. I need to realistically look at where I am, and see that I should not be in a place of confidence and contentment. I need to always desire for more of God. I am never (at least while I am here on earth in an earthly body) going to get to that place where I can just stop trying to improve myself.

I think of those first couple of times that I successfully read my Bible cover to cover. It was like, okay, I read my Bible through, now I can set it aside for a few days and read something else. The truth of the matter should have been more of, okay, time to pick it up and go at it again, and see if there's something new that God wants to say to me. Reading the Bible all the way through time and time again is good, but until we have every verse of scripture memorized, we should never reach that point where we feel we've read the Bible enough.

Think of yourself with sober judgement. The fact is, there are times where we can be proud of ourselves- we can see how far we've come, and it's okay to delight in seeing how far God has brought us. But it's important to remember that we still have so much farther to go. The spiritual journey we all are on is continuous until the day we take our last breath. That's important to remember. Judge others not, but judge yourself appropriately. That almost seems like an oxymoron, but when you really think about it- it's good. Maybe the next time I find myself looking at someone and judging them, I can make it a mental exercise to turn the judging eye on myself. What could I be doing better in that situation? I suspect if I start asking questions like that, God will start giving me answers. I can have confidence in Christ, but confidence that I have arrived is to be avoided at all costs. There will always be room for improvement.

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