The other day my son, T.J., came into the kitchen and began talking to his sister Katie about how she had left something out for the dog to get.
“Katie, you can’t leave your shoes and socks out. The dogs will get to them and eat them. You need to put them in your room.”
I couldn’t have agreed more, but as I looked over across the kitchen, what did I see laying by the door? T.J.’s shoes and jacket. Hmm…
“Uh, T.J. that is great advice but you might want to follow that too.”
“What? That’s different.” He replied. “I just placed them there when I came in, but I had to go grab stuff out of the dogs’ mouth first.”
This entire conversation made me thing of the reply. “That’s different.” I use that all the time. Out of hypocrisy I point out other people’s errors and yet I do the very same thing claiming “that’s different.” I like to justify why my actions are different than the other person. Not thinking that maybe, just maybe the other person has a perfectly legitimate excuse too (which I am sure they do because we all love to justify our own behaviors).
Matthew 7:3-5 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
It is hard to pinpoint my own justifying behavior. It is difficult to find those moments (when they are actually happening). Recently, I have found that I have been better at targeting those hypocritical moments. I may not stop the behavior immediately, but I notice them and think about what I have just said. I give myself a little pat on the back when I do that, because I am moving forward. I am recognizing it even though I may not yet be able to stop it. The next goal is of course stopping the behavior.
Start slowly. Look for key words like “that’s different” or “I would never do that” or “that person must be crazy to act that way” or “I can’t believe she would do something like that.” There are a lot of key phrases that we all use before we justify something. Justifying behavior is not a good trait. We have to learn to dig deep into the reason behind the justification. Why do we need to justify that behavior? When have I berated someone else for doing the very same thing?
This is a great time to start to pinpointing those moments of justification before that log goes into your own eye!