By Pr Herna Kong

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Rom. 2:1).

Judging or finding fault with others, or criticising them for their weaknesses is an easy thing to do, even if their shortcomings are as tiny as a speck. On the other hand, recognising our own mistakes is a difficult thing to do, even if our mistakes are as large as a plank. That is human nature. Therefore, God’s Word strongly reminds us, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). In addition, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Gal. 6:4). Righteousness and judgements are God’s. Who are we, to be self-righteous and judgemental? 

Remember what Jesus taught in His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee was very knowledgeable about the Scriptures, so he was highly respected by others. In society, he was seen as a devout Jew. Therefore, his prayer was a string of reports on his spiritual activities; faithful worship, bi-weekly fast, and regular giving of tithe. He considered himself righteous and holy, and greater than and different from others. He even had the audacity to say to God, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector” (v.11). 

In contrast, the tax collector stood at a distance, not even daring to look up to heaven, and instead bowed his head low and beat his breast, because he felt so unworthy before God. He cried out to God, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (v.13)! He recognised his own defiled, despicable and sinful state. 

From a human perspective, what this Pharisee did was very spiritual, and must have pleased God. But, in God’s eyes, it was the tax collector who went home justified, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam.16:7b). 

God knows exactly what the motive in our heart is, for every action we do, even in our worship. He cannot be fooled by outward spiritual activities that are carried out with the wrong motive in the heart. A sense of self-righteousness is different from being justified by God, so we ought not to have such a sense of self-righteousness that we pick on others’ shortcomings and weaknesses while being oblivious to our own. We are justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and solely by His grace, “so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:9).