For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
-Jesus, Matthew 7:2
So Bethany and I changed to a new car insurance a few months ago in an attempt to save a little money. One of the elements of our new company is that we get these little transponders that stick to your windshield and connect to your phone each time you get into the car and drive somewhere. In the background, an app connects to the transponder and monitors your driving. It makes note of acceleration, speeding, sudden braking, sharp cornering, and other stuff. Every time you do one of those infractions, they call it an "event." Each trip tracks "events" to give you an overall score, which can then get you extra discounts on your next insurance payment if the score average is good enough. I do like saving money. But I have to tell you, it's annoying to be constantly judged by a machine. That stupid app should try driving on Cleveland Avenue in rush hour AND while thousands of college kids are getting out of class without slamming on the brakes! It's impossible.
Currently, Bethany and I have slightly different ways of approaching this. I've been trying to leave a little earlier for places and be very gentle going around corners. She turns off her bluetooth when she gets in the car. In the end, both approaches have helped our score improve. ;)
But I realized in December that every time Bethany and I were driving together and she was in the driver's seat, inevitably I would mutter, "well that's an event" under my breath (but totally loud enough to hear) many times throughout our drive. It wasn't particularly helpful for our marriage. Then I noticed something else. When I was the one driving our family and I'd accelerate too quickly or need to lean heavy the brakes while approaching a stoplight, I would chuckle to myself, "well, that's an event..." Good times.
Judgement for her, grace for me. That's a great formula for a whole lot of broken relationships, friends.
Different people skew different ways, and certainly, sometimes we can give more grace to others than we give to ourselves. But often the flip side is true. We understand that our own lives are complicated and that God loves us anyway, but then pick apart another person and highlight all of their faults (in our minds, even if not in our words!). This is the opposite of a grace-filled life, and it's something Jesus is constantly turning us from. The answer is not found in either of the above attitudes. It's found when we are able to extend grace and love and gentleness to one another precisely because we know that God has extended his grace, love and gentleness to us.
Jesus helps us understand that judgmental attitudes toward others have a way of curving back in on us. The more we withhold grace from others, the more we are hindered from experiencing grace. The street runs both ways.
We will not experience perfection on this side of eternity. Yet God's perfect grace allows us to live freely and lightly even so, and helps us release others from the crushing pressure to constantly measure up. I'm going to change my tune the next time I'm tempted to be hypercritical of the "events" in other peoples' lives. Because I sure know I could use a lot of grace these days... and that means everyone else could too.
Jesus, move me away from the temptation to be critical and move me deeper into your grace-filled presence each day.
*Bethany approved my sharing of the intimate details of our driving relationship.