Isn't this always the way? I look (and act) my best when I'm out and have people watching. I've often judged others who I hear speaking inappropriately:
- the mom struggling to keep her toddler under control at the supermarket
- spouses who put each other down at a social gathering
- Christians who gossip and speak hurtful words, sometimes right from the pew
Oh, it's easy to judge, isn't it? Even here at home, I often think about how my husband shouldn't be so harsh or unsympathetic to the kids. But in reality, who speaks out in anger more often? It's definitely me. Who struggles to keep her toddler under control; might be less than encouraging to her husband when in group gatherings; and speak critically about others right from the pew? Me, again.
I have double standards. One for myself--forgiving of all my misdeeds and mis-steps, because I know that I didn't do it on purpose--and one for others who I expect to be all dressed up in their speech and actions when they are in public. I think that I judge people more harshly than myself because I think to myself, "Is that her best T-shirt and her cutest sandals? She's out in public! Is that the best she can do?"
More than once, I've said something impatiently to my daughter out in public, and hoped that I wouldn't be judged by an eavesdropper based on that one mistake. Other times, I hear the even more unguarded, more hurtful words that come out at home, from my baggy shorts and T-shirts, when I'm not under the watchful gaze of society. I think, "What would someone think if they heard that?" It does remind me to be careful not to make judgments about others, based on one harried moment in the supermarket especially.
I know that I have to work on my anger. I know that it's a sin. And despite knowing that I don't do it on purpose, I really do judge myself as well. I know that I have to confess my sin to the person I've wronged, as well as to my Lord. And my daughter is very forgiving. Hearing me apologize teaches her that even grownups can make wrong choices. It also has taught her to catch herself and apologize after she whines or yells. I'm thankful that under His teaching, I now recognize it as a sin. I have far to go, but I've also come a long way. I know that with God's help, He will change me.
Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.