That Ugly Sneer

“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.” – Stephen M.R. Covey

This quote recently showed up in my Twitter feed and I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, how true.” I don’t mean to judge others in this way, but so often I do. I have a hundred reasons to defend why my behaviour or lack of action was intended to be good, but I’m quick to criticize others without considering their story.

Some the most difficult situations I have gotten myself into have been as a result of my judging someone’s motives or intentions too quickly. Instead of seeking clarity or asking a good question, I’ve jumped to conclusions that often strained relationships. If we want to improve our interactions and build a deeper connection with others, we should resist the temptation to make these fanciful leaps. Far better to examine our own actions and behaviours and how they come across to others than simply blame others.

Here’s some of Jesus’ advice on these matters: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matthew 7:1-5, The Message)

This year, I’d like to be more aware of the ‘ugly sneer’ on my face, as painful as that may be. I hope we can extend each other grace and thereby perhaps understand one another better.