This Is The Way We Judge Our Friends
We all have spiritual bar graphs. You may not have written yours out, labeled it, and colored it in, but it’s there. Each bar represents an area of your life where you rise or fall spiritually. The categories are infinite, ranging from what kind of music a person likes to which kind of t.v. programs they consider entertaining, but each one reveals insight into each others mind, heart, and spirit. The graph provides a sort of mathematical formula for deciding who is better than whom. Nauseated already? Just wait...
I came up with the bar graph theory a few years ago when I realized that certain people in my church had labeled me “less Christian,” “unworthy of leadership,” and possibly “unsaved,” due to a deficiency in certain categories of my life. “How could they?” I thought, “Unfair!” I protested. “Hypocritical!” I argued. But then, hadn’t I done the same?
We each have certain areas in our life that we hang our ‘spiritual’ hats on. These are the areas where our ‘bars’ are high. If our bars are high in this area, we tend to hold others to the same standard we hold ourselves and give others grace in the areas where we ourselves are insufficient. For example, let us say that as a Christian we value honesty and would swear on grandma’s grave that we haven’t lied since the first grade when we said our dog ate our homework. This would make our ‘honesty’ bar high. You associate honesty with yourself and with Christianity. Therefore, when you associate with a dishonest person, you may question not just their honesty, but their Christianity as well. After all, you choose not to lie because you are a Christian, this is what Christians do (tell the truth), so if the other person doesn’t tell the truth, maybe they aren’t truly Christian. In the best case scenario, this person probably isn’t as good of a Christian as you.
Seems silly doesn’t it? But we Christians do it every day. We look at the way a person dresses, speaks, parents, works, spends money, relates to others, and then categorize them based on our own values. How do you decide if someone is a good parent? By how much they value the things you value as a parent. If you spank your kids, you do this because you think this is good (Spare the rod, spoil the child right?). This makes you a good parent. If the couple next to you does not spank their kids, that is bad, this makes them worse parents. But are they worse than you? Are they really bad parents?
This thinking goes both ways. We cut ourselves and others slack in the areas where our ‘bars’ are low. For example, my bars are high in church attendance, bible reading, and regular prayer. But my bar is low in fasting. That’s right, I hate fasting, I rarely do it, and it has failed to produce the spiritual answers that I was hoping for (Some of us need the answers written in the sand). When I meet a fellow Christian who doesn’t fast, I connect with their lack of fasting, and don’t hold it against them. If they steal hotel towels though, I have second thoughts!
My point is, we all have our own personal bar graphs. And just as much as we don’t like being judged by other people’s standards, we shouldn’t judge them by ours. Where we rise in one area, we fall in another. Now when I hear one person questioning another person’s spirituality, parenting, or any other such role based on one area of weakness, I think to myself, “This is a high bar for her.” And I smile, because I know something she doesn’t, it is just one bar, and now her bars are showing ;)