It doesn’t take pasting BEFORE and AFTER signs on objects to teach young children when to do certain acts.  They quickly learn through example and imitation the correct order—sock (before) shoe (after), mud pies (before) bath (after).  In almost every case the pattern continues for a lifetime—shirt (before) tie (after) cart (after) horse (before).  Strangely, that formula doesn’t always work in matters of moral judgments.  One should not expect proclamation before introspection. “She’s a negligent mother” “He’s a poor example” “Their yard is a disgrace”, etc, etc.  In each of these cases the accusers should have looked for STOP signs before entering the intersection, not after.

Jesus had to teach some scribes and Pharisees the principles of introspection in several public debates.  One needs to evaluate one’s own mental, physical and emotional state as well as one’s motives before making bold judgments about another’s behavior.  Jesus pointed out that they saw the speck in a brother’s eye without searching for the very obvious beam in their own eye (Mt 7:3-5).  In another encounter they began to understand the hypocrisy of this upon hearing Jesus’ words, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw stones” (at the woman taken in adultery).  Through introspection they realized they couldn’t judge her without judging themselves, and they walked away, leaving her alone with Jesus who told her to go home and sin no more (Jo 8:3-11).  If we realize that if we judge others before a deep self-evaluation, we will be judged by that same standard (Mt 7:1-2) we will walk away after some humble introspection.

Much more is written to Christians about this behavior.  In Romans 14 we hear, “… Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s Judgment seat” (v 10) “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (v 12)  “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another…” (v 13) “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” (v 19)  We might call this LOOKING INWARD before LEAPING OUTWARD or introspection.  Let the words that Jesus spoke be the judge of us all! (Jo 12:48)

–Jim Bailey