In others’ condemnation lies our own


Animation thanks to On r’fait le film

I was completely unprepared for my 9th grade class to so roundly criticize Willy Loman from Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman. He’s meant to represent the average American male in futile pursuit of the hoax called the American Dream.

The students admitted no merit to the man. He was unfaithful, a failed businessman, a liar, prideful, insane, a sufferer of delusions of grandeur. He deserved no sympathy in his stupid and tragic end. Never mind that he was hard-working, sacrificial, concerned about his family, the class ganged up on me when I spoke of his redeeming qualities!

When I was a pastor, I was neither as good nor as bad as people said. Some praised me excessively; others criticized me too much. The truth was and is that I am a mixture of both good and bad, saint and sinner, hypocrite and sincere, neither black nor white — just gray — like the rest of humanity.

The saddest thing is NOT perfectionism, puritanism, or Phariseeism. The depressing thing is that hyper-critics eventually wind up in their own crosshairs. Eventually you stub your own toe, and then Satan echoes back to you every harsh word you uttered over others’ failures. When this happens, you fall away from Christ: since there was no grace for others, there’s no grace for you.

Wisely, Jesus said: Judge not lest you be judged. If you have mercy on others, you’ll get mercy yourself. Prayer is NOT for exulting your superiority; it is a time of empathy and compassion for others.

27 responses to “In others’ condemnation lies our own

  1. This is a hard-learned lesson for a lot of us. Being critical is so much a part of our nature, but we sure don’t like it when the gun is turned back on ourselves. “Be ye kind. . . .” Eph. 4:32. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Could we say that our primary identity in Christ is saint, who sometimes sins? That is what I have walked away with after attending Seminary. Who am I? Child of the most high God. I can’t be both a sinner and a saint in nature, but I can be a saint who sins and therefore must frequently approach my king to seek forgiveness. With love I say this, and wonder what you think Pastor.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this lately, I appreciate your post.

  4. Thanks for your visit to my blog. I appreciate the introduction to yours!

  5. Excellent point, and very well put. So many people walk through life handing out judgments as if they were somehow appointed to the role. And yet the slightest criticism pointed at them just sends them into convulsions of righteous indignation. Not only do we forget Luke 4:23, but we would also do well to spend a little more time walking in other’s shoes. Thanks again for the thought-provoking post.

  6. yourothermotherhere

    “Eventually you stub your own toe, and then Satan echoes back to you every harsh word you uttered over others’ failures.”

    That is so true!

  7. Thanks for this post — a good reminder to be merciful. And, thank you for stopping by my blog

  8. Amen! Great Post!!! Mercy is proper everyday! Luke 14:1-6

  9. Great post and a truthful one at that. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

  10. First off, love the movie and play. Next, you are so right, yet it is hard not to strike back when insulted. In my “public face” I cannot let the stings of those harsh comments show any more than the pride from the praise. If it were just that easy on the inside as the outward facade. Thank you for once again delivering a timely testimony.
    Your Brother in Christ,

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