Who do you think you are? This is a question that I have to stop and ask myself every now and then. I have discovered that I can very easily slip into the role of “other’s evaluation”. In fact, it is a love/hate relationship. I love when I get to and can evaluate others, but hate when I need to and have to evaluate myself, especially when the evaluation is not going to fall on the positive side of things.
We like evaluation as long as we are the ones getting to do the evaluating on someone or something else. But when it comes to evaluating ourselves, our sins and our very own shortcomings, then it is a very different ballgame.
Self evaluation is hard and painful work, but it is necessary work, if we are to be all that our Creator has called and created us to be. I have been doing some self-evaluation in my own life and was challenged by a very familiar passage of scripture.
In John 8:1-11, the religious crowd brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. There question was simple: “We know what the law says, but what do you say?” The answer Jesus gave in verse seven is a classic: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
There it is – as plain as the nose on my face. There is a very big problem with my evaluating others. In fact, there are three very serious problems. Besides the obvious, that I don’t know or see everything, could have mistaken or slanted information and have enough of my own problems and challenges to deal with, there is also a set of problems that we rarely consider or think about.
When we busy ourselves with evaluating others, it causes us to not evaluate self. In fact, this is one of the reasons that we like to evaluate others, so that we don’t have to evaluate self. If I evaluate myself, then I am going to find that I have some major work to do.
Another big problem with evaluating others, is that it causes others to not evaluate self. Almost always, when we busy ourselves with evaluating someone else, then we have to share our evaluation with at least one other person and sometimes we have to share with several other persons. When we occupy the time and thoughts of others with our evaluation of others, then they don’t have to take the time to think about and evaluate their own lives.
The other really big problem with evaluating others is that it causes distraction and disunity and gets in the way of redemption and restoration. Someone said: “The person that talks about someone to you will talk about you to someone!” This causes us to focus on the wrong things and keeps us from being together the way our Creator desires for us to be together. It gets in the way of our seeing our own need for redemption and keeps us from experiencing the restoration of real and right relationship with God and with others.
The standard of Jesus is high: :”He that is without sin, let him sling a rock!” With this statement, Jesus reminded the religious crowd that their responsibility was to evaluate themselves. The Scripture teaches us that they began to practice honest self-evaluation, they were convicted and went out one by one, until there was only Jesus and the woman left.
The final words of Jesus to this woman give us hope, comfort and challenge. He said: “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.”