A while back I received an email from someone that caused me to take a hard look at my own self-righteousness.
This person had a moral failure that involved adultery, split up a best friend’s marriage and totally destroyed people who were close to me. At the time, I had traversed this minefield by putting on a loving face to all parties, regardless of their fault or sense of remorse. I had done my best to be loving and forgiving, as I suspected Jesus would have been.
However, over time my relationship with this person faded away, mostly because I began to feel uncomfortable around this person and the ongoing sin in their life.
Fast-forward about eight years. Now I was receiving casual emails from this person as if nothing had ever happened. I felt myself judging this person’s actions and even their heart as the emotions came flooding back again. As I sat and contemplated how to react to this, I believe the Holy Spirit revealed something to me. I was reminded of what it was like when I first came to California from Texas. I had no friends. I knew absolutely no one. My coworkers were nice, but at the end of the day they all went home to their families, and I went home to an empty apartment to sleep in a sleeping bag on the carpet all alone.
This same person who I was now judging had been the only person to invite me over for dinner with their family. In fact, not only did they feed me and hang out with me, they actually loved me. I became part of their family. Perhaps that was why this person’s betrayal felt so painful to me. I don’t know.
What I do know is that this person had once been the only person to show me the love of Christ at one of the loneliest and most desperate times of my life. Yet, here I was standing in judgment of their sin.
Is this the place where God wants me to be? Didn’t Jesus call us to forgive? When confronted with the woman caught in the act of adultery, didn’t Jesus offer her grace and mercy?
After that, I started to think about all the really terrible sins that I have committed in my life. Sure, none of them involved adultery or fornication, but there were plenty of instances where the sin was very ugly and very real. How grateful I was that God had not only forgiven me of those things completely, but that He had somehow forgotten them in the sea of forgetfulness.
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” —Matthew 7:1-5
I was suddenly grateful to God, not only for His incredible and immediate forgiveness of all my sin and failure, but for the conviction I was receiving at that very moment over my sin of self-righteousness and judgment.