Have you ever been put down by a silent sneer? Have you ever sensed harsh criticism in nothing more than a raised eyebrow? Have you ever felt your value as a person, as a friend, or as a relative minimized by someone finding fault in you or dismissing an achievement of yours as insignificant?
We’ve all been hurt by insults and criticism. Now, how about the other way around? Do you find too much fault with others? Do your children fear telling you of their activities and their thoughts? Are you far more lavish with criticism than praise?
If so, though you may be unaware, your friends, family, and co-workers may subconsciously avoid spending more time with you than they absolutely must.
If so, you are dogged by invisible forces that impede your progress. These forces place barriers in your way and suck the joy out of your existence. When life is good, it is often because we are surrounded by individuals who like us and want things to go well for us. They place opportunities in our way, they introduce us to people, and they correct false impressions about us. All of this takes place outside our awareness.
However when the individuals who populate the broader reaches of our life view us as constantly critical, they may respect us, they may love us, but they feel less comfortable with us. Naturally, they do not go out of their way to help us.
Though they may not do anything actually to hurt us, merely the absence of their active support translates into hidden specters that obstruct much of what we seek in life. The good news is that we can change this.
Ancient Jewish wisdom offers this helpful gem. In every interaction, give the other person the benefit of the doubt, the support and the praise that we would want him to give us if the situation was reversed. Be as generous in judging the actions of others as we tend to be when judging our own actions.
Let me explain with the help of Scripture:
You shall do no evil in judgment in matters of length, weight, or volume.
You shall have just scales, just weights, a just measure for dry goods,
and a just measure for liquids…….
In other words, we may not use a fraudulently light weight when we sell and a heavier one when we buy. God wants us to do business with scrupulous honesty. That seems perfectly clear, doesn’t it? This seems to make the following verses redundant:
You may not have in your pocket two weights,
a larger one and a smaller one. You may not have in your house
two measures, a larger one and a smaller one.
Only one full and just weight shall you have and
only one full and just measure…..
Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the Deuteronomy verses go beyond commerce. These verses are talking of false weights, not in the market place, but in our pockets and homes. These verses teach us not to use one weight or measure by judging ourselves leniently and a different harsher weight or measure when judging someone else.
Of course, some of us have exactly the opposite problem. We judge others graciously and are brutal when looking at ourselves. We constantly beat ourselves up for human failings rather than granting ourselves forgiveness. Paradoxically, this makes it harder for us to correct our failings and improve our behavior.
When you find yourself about to put someone down with a silent sneer or a raised eyebrow, or whenever you are about to find fault with someone, remember to use only one set of weights and measures. You will astound your friends, please your family and delight those who share your workplace, including yourself.
revised and reprinted from May 2009