Have you ever wondered what kind of a stench that we emit when we unjustly judge others? Why are we so prone to point our fingers at others and to find faults in them?
A few weeks ago, our family spent a few days at a campground in Tennessee. We were on the way home from a ministry tour, so we parked the motorhome at a full hook up site. We were looking forward to a few days of rest and relaxation. After the first day, we had a park ranger come to our door and talk to us to see if our sewage tank was leaking. After we showed him our tanks, he was satisfied and left. Not long after that, our “neighbor” who was parked across the road from us, came over. He was the one who had complained to the ranger because they kept smelling a stench from our motorhome. He asked Duane to walk over to their site so he could smell what they had to endure from our stinky tanks!
Duane couldn’t tell where the smell was coming from, but they said when the wind blew in a certain direction, it permeated their site. We decided to move the motorhome to the dumping station to make sure that our tanks were empty. We came back and found our “tolerating” neighbor hosing off the cement slab where we had been parked. He was determined to help us get rid of our terrible stench so that they could enjoy their camping! A few hours later, our poor neighbors decided that they had endured enough! They moved to a different site far away from us. We felt bad, but we didn’t know what else we could do.
The next day, Duane was outside when this neighbor came over to apologize. You see, they discovered that the stench followed them! It was coming from their own camper! He felt bad for unjustly judging us.
I couldn’t help but think of how this is such a typical illustration of what can happen in our lives. We can be so sure that someone else is to blame but never realize that the “stench” is coming from within ourselves. We typically are quick to see the same weaknesses in others that we are struggling with ourselves. If we become frustrated and impatient with someone, we should recognize this as a signal to look deeply into our own lives and see if we ourselves are demonstrating the same attitude in any area of our life. So often we harshly judge others by their wrong behaviors, but we judge ourselves by our good intentions.
Have you been blaming and finding faults in others? Just like our neighbor, you may be trying to help someone else get rid of their problems when you should be focusing on yourself. You need to make sure that the “stench” you smell isn’t coming from your own life. You will be amazed at how you can become more tolerant and patient with others when you acknowledge and clean up the “mess” that’s within you.
“It is better to have eyes for beauty—than for blemish. It is better to be able to see the roses—than the thorns. It is better to have learned to look for things to commend in others—than for things to condemn.”