Mirror Mirror on the Wall
3 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
Last Thursday, I began my post with a confession. I’ll do the same today.
Confession: criticism comes easy to me.
I can’t explain why, other than I would assume it stems from how critical I am of myself. But I am an “expert” critic. It’s a trait that I have to keep a handle on daily, or it can get away from me.
I know I’m not the only one, though.
Let’s call it for what it is – criticizing something (or someone) feels good. For those few minutes of indulgence we feel better-than. At times it makes us feel in control, or above whatever (or whoever) we’re censuring.
We’ll criticize anything and everything, not constructively either. In fact, we criticize for one reason only – so we can feel better about our own dysfunctions.
“For We Ourselves”
In Titus 3:1-3, Paul is expressing to Titus how Christians ought to act with others. He writes, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people“.
It’s not until verse 3, however, that Paul hits us with the big guns. With 3 simple words he places a figurative mirror before us.
He writes, “for we ourselves…”.
Essentially, in verse 3, Paul is instructing Titus to not lose touch with who he is, and where he came from. He lists the dysfunctions and issues, that prior to their salvation in Christ Jesus, formed the foundations of their lives. This was done not to condemn, but to reiterate the fact that criticism of any sort would be hypocritical, as both Titus and Paul were at one point guilty of all things mentioned in verses 1-2.
Who We Are
I think it’s imperative we remain in touch with who we are, and where we’ve come from.
Truth is, we don’t have life figured out. Granted, we may be farther ahead than others. Perhaps we’ve made better decisions than some. But who are we to think we have the right to criticize or condemn others based on where we are, what we’ve done, or any other supposed justification?
What if we routed that same energy used to pick out the issue in others, toward our own flaws? Maybe we’d be farther along.
The premise of this post is not to berate – but to challenge. Challenge all of us to look at the person in the mirror and remember that he or she, like everyone else, is still a work in progress.
The moment we lose sight of who we are as works in progress, is the moment we isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.
So here is the challenge: the next time the urge to criticize comes, consider where you are, and where you’ve been. Question whether your progress warrants condemning someone else’ ongoing development.
Chances are, the answer is always no.